Knox makes quick impact in opener

Sophomore defensive tackle and three D-line classmates saw the field together Friday -- and Knox made his presence felt on his first snap.

It didn't take long for Michigan State defensive tackle Damon Knox to make an impact in Friday night's game against Western Michigan.

In fact, the sophomore made his presence felt on his first play when he bowled over an offensive lineman was in the backfield.

"I think I was so amped up and my main focus was just don't mess up," Knox said. "What I like to do is just get off the ball and I ended up blowing the guy up and making a play off it. It felt great. It was an adrenaline rush. It was a blessing to finally get out there and I just had to take advantage of the opportunity."

The 6-foot-4, 276-pound Knox played in two games as a redshirt freshman and said coming out this season he was happy to be out there – and more ready for it.

"I got out and I mentally was prepared," he said. "I did my job. I think I was very prepared. I got a little work to do, but I think I did very well for my first game."

Head coach Mark Dantonio said Knox played very well Friday night and was strong at the point of attack.

"He is starting to show some signs of really solid play in terms of what we expected when we recruited Damon," Dantonio said. "This is his, I think, third year, so he is starting to play very well."

Knox said having a pair of seniors in Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds to help teach him has helped him get better.

"Having those two guys in front of me, I've learned a lot.," he said. "Hoover, being a sixth-year senior, has a lot he can teach me. He's still coaching when he's not in and he's on the sideline and I'm in. When I'm on the sideline, he's coaching me. He's telling me what I do wrong and what I can do better and I appreciate it. It's making me better."

Knox said he is focusing on working on his pass rush and how he uses his hands. His classmate and fellow defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun said Knox was working hard all through the summer.

"He's been keeping me motivated, I've been keeping him motivated," Calhoun said. "He told me, one day, he said stay on me. I don't care if I'm hurting, stay on me to keep striving to get better. For all that work to finally pay off for him to get on the field is great."

Knox and Calhoun came in together as members of the 2011 recruiting class, which also had Mark Scarpinato and Joel Heath on the D-line.

"Me, Joel and Scarp, we come out and we grind everyday and we try to encourage each other," Knox said. "We butt heads but it's always in a positive way. We always try to keep each other going."

All four of them were on the field together for some snaps against the Broncos, which Knox said was awesome.

"That felt good to have my whole class in at one time," he said. "It's just a big blessing to come out and see all of us on the field and know all of us can play at the same time."

Calhoun said he didn't realize at the time that all four of them were on the field together, but he heard that fact later.

"At that moment, I didn't think about it," he said, "but I knew that everyone who has been out there with my has my back and I was like, ‘Let's do it, it's time go. We are all out here, let's create plays, let's create turnovers, let's do our thing. It's our time to shine."

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