With football season around the corner, we are going to look at the impact of several players. There are numerous players on both sides of the ball that will have a ton of pressure on them to perform, but on defense we are going to go with Jonathan McKnight.
McKnight will be the first to admit that his performance last season was a bit disappointing, although there was some improvement as it went on.
"I played alright last season," he said. "I was off and on. I kind of worked on my game more off the mistakes I made this year. It is good to get the extra practices and end the season with a bowl game like this, so next year I can come back stronger than I was this year."
The pressure from McKnight comes from two main sources, but first we will start with the simple fact that the fan base isn’t very patient and that is probably putting it kindly.
Shaquille Richardson was in a similar position going into last season and shut a lot of people up when he put together the best season of his career and turned it into a potential NFL future. There weren’t many Arizona fans that thought Richardson would put together that type of season and those same fans were generally the ones that even believed Richardson was on a short leash.
Fast forward to this season and you can basically say the same thing about McKnight. If he struggles to open the season, Arizona fans are going to want guys like Devin Holiday, Cameron Denson, and Rodney Carr to get the bulk of the snaps that McKnight is getting.
The second source of pressure is simple. This is it for McKnight. There is no next year and if he is going to have a future playing football, that future has to start now. If he does not put together a solid senior season, you have to wonder what the future holds for the Louisiana native.
The leash on nearly every position is shorter because Rich Rodriguez has continually upgraded the roster. A consistent stretch of bad performances is going to make it difficult for anybody to play, let alone a player that is a senior and does not necessarily have time to develop.
McKnight’s season can basically go one of two ways and that’s the reason why there is so much pressure on him to succeed.