It's Knight Time

Ezekial Knight hasn't even been a blip on the radar screen for opposing teams preparing to defend Alabama, but after Tyrone Prothro's season-ending leg injury Saturday night, the Alabama camp is saying it's Knight time in Tuscaloosa.

"Whether he's ready or not his time is here. He ain't got no choice," quarterback Brodie Croyle said. "He's about to get a bigger role in this offense and a lot of balls are going to be thrown his way."

There's no replacing Tyrone Prothro with one player. He was the Tide's most dangerous receiver and kick returner, and he forced defenses to prepare for him to line up at quarterback or halfback. Croyle put it best, "If you had to Tyrone Prothros on your team you'd be in good shape. Tyrone Prothro was, in my opinion, the best player in the nation, hands down."

DJ Hall is the leading candidate to take over punt return duties, and he will continue to be back deep on kickoff returns, either with Brandon Brooks, Matt Caddell or Keith Brown.

Brown and Hall have become household names, and they will become better known as Alabama's offense tries to make up for the lost productivity of Prothro. But Knight, with five receptions in five games this year, and 10 catches as a true freshman last season is mostly unknown.

"At the wide receiver spot Ezekial Knight's role will pick up," Tide Head Coach Mike Shula said. "We'll still have a good rotation with at least four guys."

The 6-4, 230-pound Knight drew rave reviews for his spring training efforts. In three scrimmages he caught a total of 12 passes. Tide Head Coach Mike Shula and offensive coordinator Dave Rader called him a playmaker. Shula compared his play making ability to that of Prothro, but pointed the obvious differences in the two players.

After the game Saturday night Croyle mentioned Knight specifically as one player who would take on a different role – even before Shula spoke with the media. Croyle had already spoken to Knight about it.

"A couple of players were telling me it's time to step up," Knight said. "Mostly Brodie. He told me I have to step it up… Physically, I've got speed, but not flat out speed like Keith Brown. I know how to use my size to get open. I feel like I can do the same thing I did in the spring. I've just got to work harder."

Confidence seems to be a big part in Knight's game. He missed a potential touchdown pass in Columbia, S.C., and since has caught one ball for three yards.

"He had tons of confidence through the season," Croyle said. "It seems like he's gone down since the one drop in the South Carolina game, but you can't live and die with one play."

Knight didn't put his finger on that play at South Carolina play, but he did indicate that his output was linked to the confidence he has in himself and the expectations others have.

"I'm going to keep on doing the same things I do every day but I'm just going to pick it up because they are expecting more out of me," he said. "I'm going to expect more out of myself since they are expecting more out of me."

Knight will have to learn an expanded offensive package during the off week. He can't do everything Prothro did, but he can make plays like he did in the spring and make a bigger name for himself in the second half of Bama's season. In fact, he's expected to do that now, which might make all the difference in the world.


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