McKnight Becomes Playmaker

Rhema McKnight, the speedy sophomore receiver from California, came in and saw action as a freshman and earned his monogram as a backup receiver. In his first season he had 9 receptions for 91 yards and also returned a punt in the Rutgers game. This season Rhema is much more involved in the offense. Irish Eyes recently had the opportunity to ask him about his play and this week's game with Navy.

We began by asking Rhema how the wide receivers are getting ready for Navy and he stated, "Actually, we've been separate from the defense so far this week. They're working on what Navy does - the Wing T offense - the option. So we haven't seen our #1 defense all week. But what we're focusing on is executing as an offense and working on the little things that really count,and hoping that we come out and play hard and get a victory."

McKnight also told us that the tapes of the Navy defense showed, "They're a solid defense. They drop back, play zone, and are solid. They are rated pretty high in the country in pass defense so it's going to be a challenge for us."

Rhema's playing time and contributions have improved greatly this year. Heading into this week's game he has 29 receptions good for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns. We asked Rhema to compare last year to this year and he responded, "Well, it just wasn't my time. That's how I look at it. Incoming freshman - I didn't know where I would be or what I would be doing. I didn't know if I was going to get playing time or not. I did get a little playing time and made the best of what I had. I worked hard in the summer and continue to improve."

As McKnight continues to become a bigger factor in the Irish offense, opposing teams are taking notice of him. We wondered if there has been one especially tough team he has gone up against this year and he replied, "I wouldn't say there was one tough team. Every team we have played so far is pretty tough. Overall we have seen different things. We have seen teams load in the box; we've seen a couple of teams play a lot of drop zone; so there hasn't been one team that has overpowered the rest."

When asked if he had set goals and things to improve on for this year Rhema responded, "Get faster. A receiver can never be fast enough. I think if anything I need to get faster and make the plays I know I can. Don't get ahead of myself. Knowing the ball will be coming my way a little bit more, I have to stay focused and make the plays and blocks I need to."

Our final question for McKnight concerned the 39 game winning streak Notre Dame has against Navy and if he and his teammates talked about this and he smiled and said, "We don't pay any attention to that. We just know as long as we come out and execute and play a complete game, we'll have a great chance of winning. And if we feel we can do that, we will come out on top. And hopefully we can - and after the game we'll worry about that."

All of us have seen the growth in Rhema's play this year, and with his attitude and determination, he will continue to be a big factor in the offense and the success of the Irish. It is important to note that off the field, Rhema is very down-to-earth and the type of person who is willing to help others and is noted for his random acts of kindness. Top Stories