Manatee WR McKnight High on UMD

Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) slot receiver Kelvin McKnight had been sitting on offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Troy, but on May 15 the diminutive speedster landed his first FBS verbal.

Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) slot receiver Kelvin McKnight had been sitting on offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Troy, but on May 15 the diminutive speedster landed his first FBS verbal. The 5-foot-8, 178-pounder with 4.4 40-yard-dash speed said he exchanged messages with Maryland assistant Mike Locksley, who let him know the Terps wanted him in their program.

"I was so excited -- shocked to tell you the truth," McKnight said. "It was my first really big offer. I kept telling Coach Locksley, 'Thank you, thank you,' but he said, 'Don't say that, you earned this.' I was so honored, and I know Maryland is a great program that has a bright future in the Big Ten. I'm very interested in them."

McKnight said he first came in contact with UMD a couple months back when Locksley first visited the powerhouse Manatee. The Florida receiver has stayed in touch on and off since then, and earlier this spring he said his Terps' recruiter let him know the program was highly interested in him.

"Coach Locksley was telling me how he loved my speed, my explosiveness and how I can make plays in the open field. He was telling me how I could be a really good fit there as a receiver and returner," McKnight said. "He said he was going to show my film to the receivers' coach [Keenan McCardell] and see what he thought, and what the head coach [Randy Edsall] thought. Then he sent me a text and said that everyone at Maryland believed I could fit in well there and he wanted me in the program. It's great because that's my biggest offer yet."

The Manatee slot was immediately intrigued, because he was just in College Park, Md, last fall. His Manatee squad played Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) last September in an event at Byrd Stadium, giving McKnight a taste of Maryland.

"I have good memories of that because I had 13 catches and over 100 yards in that game," McKnight said, laughing. "I didn't get to see much of the school, but on the drive in it looked really nice and I remember there were a lot of monuments and D.C. was right there. It looks like a nice place and a really big campus. I liked playing [in Byrd] and thought it was a pretty cool place."

McKnight learned a bit more about the UMD program from his conversations with Locksley. He's well aware of the Big Ten shift and the Under Armour affiliation.

"Maryland is like Oregon except with Under Armour instead of Nike," McKnight quipped. "They have really cool uniforms, I know that. And they're going to the Big Ten, and that's a huge, huge move. It would be a great chance for me to play against some of the best players in college football. "I know Stefon Diggs is there, and he's one of the best receivers in college football. I also like how Maryland is very strong academically. I want to major in communications or sports management, and I know Maryland has good programs for both."

The Sunshine State product plans to return to College Park this summer, though he doesn't have a set date yet. He said he's eager to meet the rest of the staff and explore the inner workings of the school.

Is a commitment possible after he trips north?

"Well, I'm not sure yet," he said. "I do like Maryland and it's my biggest offer, but I want to see what other options I have. I like them a lot right now though."

McKnight is also hearing ECU, Syracuse, Temple, Duke, Arkansas, Rutgers and a few others. Of those, he said Temple and ECU have stayed in close contact and could be on the verge of offering.

The school he wants to hear more from, though, is West Virginia.

"I love Tavon Austin and I model my game after him," McKnight said. "I watched him a lot, and that's one of the main reasons I like West Virginia."

So far the only school McKnight has seen is FAU. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the trip and said the program is "definitely" under consideration. In fact, he said FAU was his No. 1 suitor until Maryland came calling.

"Right now I don't want to say any favorites and just want to see who else recruits me," said McKnight, who will likely trip to UMD, Temple, ECU and a few others. "I'm going to talk to my parents and set up a few visits this summer and go from there. But I would like to have my decision made by August. I want to get the process over with before my senior season."

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