"Of all the things I liked about Ole Miss, it was the coaches and the atmosphere on the team that made me feel like Ole Miss is the place for me," said Demarcus Knight, a 6-2 230-pound linebacker who recently committed to the Rebels, said. "When I left their spring game, I felt like I had been at home.
"I felt I would be taken care of and the people there would truly care about me and my career and education. They showed the most interest in having me, so I decided to commit."
Morristown East HS Coach Dwayne Hatcher has been around the block. Hatcher has coached at small colleges in Kentucky and in the Carolinas, in the Georgia HS ranks and is now back "home" in East Tennessee. (Morristown is roughly an hour from the Virginia state line.)
He knows a good football player when he sees one.
"Demarcus is similar to the kids in South Georgia I used to coach, coach against and recruit," said Hatcher. "We are kind of off the beaten path with college recruiters here, but he's a kid who could shine anywhere.
"What jumps out at you instantly is his closing speed. He has excellent closing speed. He runs a 4.65 40, but he plays a lot faster than that. He's hard-nosed and very, very athletic. He wows you on film."
Demarcus, who has made All-Region (AAAA) the past two years, agrees with that assessment.
"I don't know what it is, but I feel so much faster on the football field than I do on the track. I try to have patience with my play so I don't overrun plays, but once I decide to go, I feel like I am really moving," Knight said.
Hatcher said DeMarcus had 46 solo stops, 26 assists, three QB sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries his junior year, despite playing a position he had never played before- middle linebacker.
"Demarcus was playing Will LB and I had a senior on the inside. My MLB went down and Demarcus moved inside and did an excellent job, even though he did not know the position. He got those stats in 11 games, by the way," Hatcher noted. "We got hurt really bad with key injuries last year, but Demarcus was one of the players who stepped his game up and didn't allow us to go too far down. At Ole Miss, he could play WLB, MLB or even play some DE if he keeps growing, which he might."
Knight's strength numbers indicate he's a weight room "junkie."
"I bench 330 pounds, power clean 290 and squat 455. I just turned 18 in February, so I feel real good where I am strength-wise," Knight stated.
Demarcus said he's gotten "a lot" of attention from Tennessee, MTSU and Louisville besides Ole Miss, but he's content with his early decision.
"I'm sold on Ole Miss. I went to UT's spring game, but I just didn't get the feeling I got at Ole Miss," Knight closed.
Hatcher is excited about Demarcus' "marriage" to the Rebel program.
"My assistant coaches took Demarcus to Ole Miss' spring game and they came back telling me it was the most beautiful campus they had seen and that Demarcus would be taken care of by the staff there," Hatcher ended. "I'm pleased with that. I would like to come down this summer for the senior camp and see what they were all raving about.
"I just know Demarcus was happy about his choice and I know he is a legit player. He's what you are looking for as a college recruiter. The Knoxville Sentinel puts out a Top 25 for the state of Tennessee in the summer. I will be really shocked if Demarcus is not on it. I promise you he is a Top 25 player in our state."
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