MC

Mississippi College

Steven Knight Heads to Tampa Bay Training Camp

July 16, 2012

Steven Knight’s dream of landing in the NFL takes a giant step when the former Mississippi College running back begins training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In between heavy lifting at the Courthouse fitness club in Brandon, Knight says he’s more determined than ever to play pro football on Sundays.

“I know I’m going to make it,” says the 23-year-old Pearl native. “I just have to.”

On a mid-July evening when the Courthouse was practically empty, and most folks in Central Mississippi were getting ready for bed, Knight returned to the task at hand – getting his body toned up for a rigorous pro football camp. He leaves Mississippi for training camp on July 28. When not pumping iron in the gym, he feasts on broccoli, rice and other healthy foods.

Small by NFL standards at 5’9” and 195 pounds, this energized Mississippian is equipped with blazing speed and comes packed with muscles. Knight says he can bench press 225 lbs. 25 times – or maybe better - and has been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.3 seconds.

In a report airing in late April on WJTV-TV 12 in Jackson, Knight is seen leaping over a 6’0” MC teammate at Robinson-Hale Stadium while running with a football in hand.

“Steven is as solid as a rock,” says Choctaws head football coach Norman Joseph. “He’s a tremendous talent,” who was not only an outstanding runner, but excelled as a blocker during his career at MC. “He’s a multi-task back.”

Knight has proven he’s good enough to get invited to Tampa Bay’s training camp this summer and that shows he’s got the skills to become an NFL player, Joseph said.

The versatile athlete says he will play running back and take on special teams assignments at Tampa Bay’s training camp. But he laughed and said he will go just about anywhere the coaches send him on the football field.

At Mississippi College, Knight also found time to hit the books. He was a criminal justice major at the Christian university.

Former Choctaws teammates are rooting for Knight to achieve his dream with Tampa Bay.  “I hope he makes it,” says DeMarrion Buford-Hughes, an MC sophomore receiver from Mobile, Ala. who played with Knight in 2011.

It’s not unheard of for a Mississippi College football player to reach the NFL. Former Choctaws star running back Fred McAfee, a Philadelphia native, was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame two years ago after a stellar 16-year career in the league. A speedy NFL back who also played on special teams, McAfee now serves as director of player personnel for the Saints.

NCAA Division III All-American Jake Allen, who was among the best receivers in Mississippi College history, played briefly with the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns. Last year, Allen played in the Canadian Football League and most recently he was on an Atlanta team in the Arena football league. A 2008 MC graduate, Allen now plans to become a football coach.

While the NFL is a rough league that’s been saddled with hundreds of lawsuits from former players amid the Bountygate scandal, Joseph says he believes Knight is pretty durable and ready for the next level. “He’ll be okay.”

In Tampa Bay, Knight would join an NFC South squad led by quarterback Josh Freeman. There are a couple of Bucs players with in-state ties on the roster from schools like Ole Miss and Southern Miss.

After gaining 1,333 all-purpose yards as a junior in 2009 (including 11 touchdowns) when the Choctaws were American Southwest Conference champions, Knight stayed on the sidelines for most of the 2010 season due to an injury.

Wearing No. 7, the Rankin County native returned for his senior year in 2011 to pile up 1,200 rushing and receiving yards and scored 13 touchdowns for MC. The son of Vic and Terrie Knight, Steven was a standout at Hinds Community College and Northwest Rankin High before coming to Mississippi College.

 

Photo: MC Choctaws running back Steven Knight picks up big yardage.