Joe McKnight is No. 1 on the Bayou

John Curtis Christian School out of River Ridge has been home to one of Louisiana's top high school football programs for years, and this season it is also home to the Bayou State's No. 1 ranked player in Joe McKnight.

John Curtis Christian School out of River Ridge has been home to one of Louisiana's top high school football programs for years, and this season it is also home to the Bayou State's No. 1 ranked player in Joe McKnight.


McKnight (5-11, 185) is a duel threat out of the backfield for the Patriots, accumulating 502 yards and nine touchdowns on 36 carries, as well as 497 yards and five touchdowns on 20 receptions, which earned him first team All-District, All-Metro and All-State honors last season.


 The jack-of-all-trades did not take it easy during the off-season as he was also a member of John Curtis' basketball and track teams, winning the Class AA state championship in the 100 meters.


Although he missed the opening days of spring practice while recovering from a hamstring injury, McKnight is excited about getting ready for his senior year.


Taking a break from the rigors of football gave him a chance to enjoy some of the other things he loves about high school but he is ready to get back to doing what he truly loves.


"I'm ready to start knocking people around again," he said. "It's been a long time."


With college coaches traveling all over during the spring recruiting season, McKnight has been getting attention from schools across the country, including recent visits from USC head coach Pete Carroll, and LSU's tandem of head coach Les Miles and running backs coach Larry Porter.


McKnight anticipates visits from many more coaches before the end of the school year, including Nebraska, Michigan and Tennessee, among others, but he says that two schools have caught his eye above the rest.


"I'm interested in LSU, USC, Florida State, Florida and Tennessee," he said, "But the two I really like are LSU and USC."


McKnight added that there are different aspects of each school that he likes, but it is the offenses that stand out to him.


"I love the way that USC uses their backs to both run and catch," he stated. "With LSU, that's just hard nose football. I feel like I could fit in at LSU at either running back or wide receiver."


Coaches have told McKnight they like his potential as a college star for a variety of reasons, including his speed (he claims a 4.4 time in the 40), and his talent and diversity as an athlete.


Diversity is another thing that makes the Trojans and Tigers unique from the rest in the way they have told McKnight he could be utilized.


"The coaches at both schools told me I could be used as either a receiver or in the back field." he added. "Most of the other schools have just talked to me about running back.


"Really, I would play anything. If they want me at receiver, I'll play receiver. If they want me at running back, I'll play there.  If they want me on defense, I'll play defense."


McKnight has been used at corner back and free safety in high school, actually starting off as defensive player his freshman year, but says that he thinks his college career will be spent strictly on offense and returning kicks.


With one season remaining, though, before he joins the collegiate ranks, McKnight hopes he and his loved ones do not have to deal with the adversity they encountered in 2005 and are still having to deal with.


At the start of his junior season, McKnight was forced to leave New Orleans due to hurricane Katrina. He moved to Shreveport, where he enrolled at historic football powerhouse Evangel for a brief stint, and he did not know if he would ever be able to return back home.


"When we found out that schools in New Orleans were going to be closed a while, I was originally thinking about heading out to California to play, but then decided to stay and go to Evangel," explained McKnight.


"I enrolled the day after their first game, and played with them for two games before [John] Curtis reopened and I came back. Overall, it was a real good experience. I got to play for two state champions in one season," he said jokingly.


Back home in south Louisiana, McKnight is currently living with John Curtis head coach, JT Curtis. The Patriots headman has been a mentor to McKnight over the years and actually a lot more than that.


"[Coach Curtis] has been like a father to me," he said. "It's been cool. It's not like you would expect living with your coach to be. When he comes home, he is like a totally different person.


"I had been moving around from house to house for the past few years, and coach could see how it was affecting me both on and off the field. So, when I came back after the hurricane, he took me in, and I've been living with him ever since."


During the summer, McKnight's goal is to get bigger and faster, hoping to get his weight up to 200 pounds before the season starts. He also plans on attending the Manning football camp, but doesn't anticipate going to any others, as his summer will already be filled with workouts.


"Summer isn't a vacation at Curtis," he said. "Once you put that uniform on, you don't take it off. We spend the summer working out five days a week and taking karate and yoga classes to get ready for next season."


And at John Curtis getting ready for next season means doing what it takes to add another state championship crown to its already filled trophy case.


Note: To see what makes Joe McKnight one of the most exciting players in the country check out his highlights below.


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