Coming off back-to-back years with serious injuries, the 6'5" Reno, Nev. native is looking to make an immediate impact, and perhaps even crack the starting lineup at his new position. Despite the injuries, his attitude remained positive.
"I am a hundred percent healthy. It's the best I've felt in a long time," said Knapp. "It was tough dealing with the injury but it's worth it that I'm back now. I've got a new position and I'm as strong and as big as I've ever been before. In the long run it was worth it and everything happens for a reason, I feel like."
Despite his upbeat demeanor, the move from tight end to tackle wasn't always easy to swallow.
"At first, I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed," Knapp recalled. "I wanted to look pretty, catch touchdowns and do that whole thing. Now that I look at in the long run, I honestly believe that I'll be a better left tackle and have a better chance of going to the next level. Overall, it's a good change and I'm happy to be here."
On the surface, it may seem odd to move a tight end from a group that lacks depth to offensive tackle, but when Knapp talks about his strengths as a player, the move makes perfect sense.
"My forte in football is my blocking." explained Knapp. "When I was a tight end that's primarily what I did. I got moved because of my accomplishments in blocking. My strong suit is working on and improving my blocking."
"He's strong, he's athletic and he can pass protect," said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson on Thursday night. "What people don't realize is that at tight end you do the same (blocking). The newest thing for his is pass protection, but he's so athletic and if you watch him on the one on one's he's awfully good.
"I'm happy with what I've seen in two days with him."
Knapp transition also required the physical burden of gaining weight and increasing strength. These were challenges the junior was willing to take on, even while recovering from a torn ACL.
"I ate about six times a day rather than three," Knapp said. "I had about seven muscle milks a day. My calorie and protein intakes were off the charts. I was in there working out constantly, everyday, just trying to get bigger."
Knapp joins an offensive line group that has been searching for an identity ever since the departure of now Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman, Mike Pollak. But the well known and heard criticisms don't have the unit in a funk. In fact, it feels like the exact opposite. When asked if the entire line was using the harsh words as motivation, Knapp replied,
"Absolutely. We all know the offensive line hasn't got much praise over the last couple years, so we're using that as fuel to come out this season and prove everybody wrong, show everyone what's up with this new offense we have. I think we're going to come out with a swagger than no one has ever seen before."
The swagger talked about might have something to do with the high tempo, new offensive system first year coordinator Noel Mazzone is instilling in the offense. Quick passes, multiple receiver sets, the shotgun and fleet footed quarterbacks have been ever prevalent through the first two sessions of summer ball and Knapp believes this suits the offensive line perfectly.
"I think (the new offensive system) is great," Knapp commented. "The offensive line as a whole is in twice as better shape as we were last year. With this offense and how good of shape we're in, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't tire out every team in the country."
The offensive line also received a boost with this latest recruiting class in the form of several new high school recruits and a couple big name junior college transfers. Amongst those junior college transfers is large Brice Schwab. Schwab was originally committed to USC but when Pete Carroll left for the NFL he reopened his recruitment. Knapp believes the newcomers could be instrumental in the success of the offense.
"They're doing good," Knapp noted. "Schwab looks solid. The freshmen are looking great. They're going to be good players down the line. They've just got a lot of work to do. Everyone does. As of right now, everyone is looking good."
Through only a few days of summer ball, Knapp has established himself as the number two left tackle on the depth chart. With plenty of practice sessions left and an ample amount of belief in himself, it is anybody's guess where the one time tight end will end up.