So Knox said he had three minutes to spare for media…and he delivered with the talk lasting 2:58.
Even better, what the running backs coach and special teams coordinator was able to report in that short time sufficed. Knox is enjoying this preseason session since, as he says, he has the most total and the best overall group of backs to work with in his Mississippi State tenure. The same seems true in terms of picking who will return kicks this fall, as Knox says there are six—at least—capable candidates to field punts and kickoffs.
You have a lot of bodies and different types of runners to work with this year? “We do. A good group, I don’t know if I’ve had this many quality running backs in a while. The two freshmen that have come in have shown that they’re going to be able to play in this league. The veterans coming back are solid, Josh Robinson, Nick Griffon, Ashton Shumpert, and Brandon Holloway. And all those guys are playing well right now. I mean we’ve got competition at that position.”
How do you see they can get enough snaps with so many different styles of runners? “Well we’re doing so much in practice right now. So we’re getting a lot of reps, the reps are equally divided in practice. So that is not a big concern right now because they’re getting equal amounts. But as we start to prepare more for a game then it will cut down.”
How does moving Shumpert to some fullback open some doors or the possibility of having him and other backs there? “Well, we do some two-back stuff. So having two backs in the backfield as we always have done will be beneficial for those guys to get them on the field.”
What did you see in Shumpert to think of a fullback role? “Well just the size, and the ability to do so many things from that position. Not only just run but block, catch, all of it from that position also.”
What have you seen from the return teams so far? “They’re working. They’re all learning. We’re teaching some skills, techniques and fundamentals. So we’re getting everyone to buy into what we’re teaching and they’re working at the technique and fundamentals of it.”
Who is working on kickoff return the most? “No one in particular. We’ve got about six guys back there that we’re all working as far punt returners and kickoff returners. So we just keep working them, then we’ll make a decision as we get close to the game.”
Does Griffin look like he’s back to where he was before the knee injuries? “Close, close. He’s shown that ability this spring of being almost there. And I think now he’s right on the verge of it. I think as he begins to gain confidence we’ll see more and more explosive runs from him.”
Have you seen Robinson be better in a leadership role? “I have. We gave him a ‘little brother’ in our Big Brother program, he has a little brother he has to mentor and be a leader for. So I think he has gotten better with that part of it.”
What have Williams and Lee shown early in camp to catch your attention? “They run hard. They run hard, they work hard. And that’s what we ask, that’s what we look for, guys that want to work hard and they run the ball very hard.”
How have you paired-up the big and little brothers? “Some guys ask for a little brother because they want to be a role model. And then others we pair up from maybe the same area or the same position.”