Nigel Knott is known throughout Mississippi as a lockdown cornerback, and on Orange Carpet Day June 20, the Magnolia State native corralled his most impressive catch to date — Tennessee head coach Butch Jones.
The Scout four-star prospect chased down his potential new coach after winning a friendly competition during the Vols' special recruiting day and celebrated by holding Jones so the rest of the defensive backs could douse him in a tsunami of water balloons and water buckets.
“We had like a little competition to have fun with it. My team actually won the team competition, the (defensive backs) group,” Knott said. “When we got done with that we started throwing water balloons and I got ahold of coach Jones. I held him and they dumped water buckets on him. We had a fun time.”
Schools across the United States — including Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Texas A&M, among others — are actively courting the Germantown (Madison, Miss.) High School product, who ranks as the Mississippi’s No. 1 cornerback. Tennessee extended its scholarship offer to Knott last October and he has been a highly coveted prospect for the Vols ever since.
At 5-11, 171-pounds, Knott still has plenty of time to add muscle and grow into a frame that boasts blazing speed and sharp change of direction on the gridiron. Now the defensive back is being forced to put in work off the field, sorting through the offer list he has whittled down to ten schools to find the place where he best fits. As that process begins to play out, Knott told InsideTennessee he’s looking at more than just what schools can offer in their football programs.
“(I’m looking at) just the things outside of football, because you’re going to be on campus for a couple of years,” he said. “I kind of want to live my life and go to school, stuff like that.”
The Vols impressed Knott on Orange Carpet day, where he echoed Tennessee offensive line commit and fellow class of 2016 recruit Ryan Johnson about the impressive itinerary Jones and his staff rolled out for the visit.
“They took us through a hallway and they had a DJ playing and stuff like that. They had recruiting girls taking pictures,” Knott said. “You went down toward the media area and get interviewed. Some people got interviewed, some people didn’t. I got interviewed, and then they took you in front of the green screen and let you play around with that. Once you finished that, you went down to eat, and then everybody had a meeting.”
While Knott said he enjoyed his visit, he’s still a long way off from whittling down the top ten list he released last week. The Vols are competing with Alabama, USC, Oregon, Florida State, Texas A&M, Georgia, Ole Miss, Louisville and Mississippi State for the South Region’s No. 5–ranked corner. Knott still plans to visit Texas A&M and Oregon this summer, but when it comes to the question of making his final decision, the rising senior is still learning to deal with the process.
“With me, I really don’t know when it comes to that question honestly,” he said. “I try to ask people who have been through that process … because I’ve never been through it before. I have to choose what I want the most and right now I don’t even know.”