Knox Talks About Early Recruitment

The 5-9, 190-pound junior running back, Milton Knox of Birmingham, is on track to be the all-time leading rusher in Los Angeles City Section history. After attending UCLA's Junior Day, Knox talked about his early recruitment, rumors of an early commitment, and more...

Already, Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham running back Milton Knox (5-9, 190) is getting an idea of the crazy world of recruiting. Signing Day for the class ahead of him hadn't even occurred before the City Section Player of the Year had to respond to rumors that he had made a commitment.

"It was a crazy week," said Knox. "There have been a lot of rumors and speculation that I committed to UCLA, but I'm just taking my time and clearing things up. Honestly, I kind of thought things like that would happen because that's how the recruiting process happens."

Knox, being one of the most accomplished running backs in Southern California, will probably be one of the most heavily recruited players in the West in the class of 2008 so he's already preparing himself for the onslaught of calls and dealing with speculation about his college choice.

Three schools have offered Knox a scholarship -- UCLA, Florida State and Ole Miss -- while he also has a strong interest in Cal and Oregon.

Knox, though, said one team is standing out, slightly.

"Right now, I mean, everyone is saying it's UCLA and some say Florida State, but right now, everyone is about the same," said Knox. "But you can give UCLA the slight edge. They're right there, they're the home team. They have the edge over Ole Miss and Florida State."

The rumors of Knox's commitment to UCLA came on the heels of his visit to Westwood this for UCLA's Junior Day. Knox said his time at Junior Day was a worthwhile venture for him. "Junior Day was good, it was real nice," said Knox. "There were a lot of people there. I was with the Jackson twins (Birmingham teammates Malik and Marquis) and they showed us around the campus and I was really seeing how big the campus was. Then they took us to the basketball game and we had a great time. We really got a feel for UCLA, for how they are as a unit. It's a nice place to be."

Knox's favorite player is former Bruin star Maurice Jones-Drew and as the Bruin brain trust discussed with Knox his potential role in the offense, they envisioned using him the same way they did with Jones-Drew.

"They want to use me the same exact way, run it inside and run it outside, catch passes out of the backfield," said Knox. "That's what they want me to do and execute it."

Knox met new UCLA offensive coordinator Jay Norvell and came away impressed. "I liked him a lot and he was with the Raiders when they went to the Super Bowl. I don't know if people remember, but they led the NFL in almost every statistic. They liked to open up the ball in space. He told me and (L.A. Crenshaw receiver) Kemonte Bateman that if we came here, we'd be his top playmakers. He'd like to put us in space and do things one-on-one. I love how they come at the players and hopefully, maybe one day, I'd be a part of that," said Knox.

Still, despite his affinity for the Bruins, Knox said he's in no hurry to make a decision and that he wants to go through the recruiting process for a while, even going as late as next winter, before he commits. "I've been up and down, thinking about when I want to decide, but I haven't really made up my mind on what I want to do, on what day is perfect for me. Myself, my father and my mother, we sat down and we're going to try to make a decision within this January or February and find the best place for what fits for me, not just in football but in academics," said Knox.

Knox said that Ole Miss and Florida State, both having offered, are places he wants to visit and Cal is also a destination he would like to see.

"I'm willing to take those trips to Florida State and Mississippi and also if Cal offered, I'd love to go up to Berkeley," said Knox. "I talked with Cal last week and they told me they'd talk to me (after Signing Day), but just let time take care of itself."

Knox is close friends with Taft linebacker Malcolm Smith, who earlier this week signed with USC. Smith was a hotly pursued player from programs around the country before he signed with the Trojans. So Knox has been able to use Smith as a sounding board on the big picture of recruiting.

"I was hanging with Malcolm Smith, he's one of my closest Pop Warner friends and he said to just savor the moment," said Knox. "He was telling me about a trip to Notre Dame and there is 100,000 people there and he knows there is only like 20,000 students and he's wondering where all these people are coming from. I'm looking forward to being a part of that experience."

Knox has also had his fair share of critics, who have called Knox, at 5-9, too small to be a big-time back, but he wouldn't let that knock him off his dreams of playing major college football. "It's always been a dream," said Knox. "Growing up, I was always bigger and taller and stronger than the kids but you never had me ever thinking I was going to be one of the top 100 recruits, so it's a dream come true. Now, me being a shorter guy, I've got a lot of heart. I might be 190 pounds, but I run hard. If someone is 10 times bigger than me, I'll go at them 10 times harder. I'm a little stubborn dude."

Now Knox is on his way to being the all-time leading rusher in City Section history, a big accomplishment when looking at some of the great running backs to come out of the City. "I still have another year to go but I look at it and it's a shock," said Knox. "When I first got to Birmingham, they were a passing school, and there was no way I'm going to break these records." Birmingham also has the tag of being a "Valley School" so Knox feels there is more to prove for them. "We get that a lot from people thinking you guys from the Valley can't play, but I think winning these championships, we earn their respect. But we haven't demanded it yet. When people think of City schools, they think of Dorsey and Crenshaw. So we have to play teams like Notre Dame, Long Beach Poly and Valencia. And I love that. I'm playing against Kenny Rowe, teams with three to four D-1 players and that just helps my game and we try to show we're not a soft team," said Knox.

During Birmingham's City Championship season, Knox was the workhorse, rushing for 2,374 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns en route to first-team all-State honors (both overall and underclass) and being named the City Section Player of the Year. And Knox said he wasn't healthy most of the season.

"I did all of that with an ankle sprain," said Knox. "I hurt it in the Notre Dame game and it was a Grade 2 ankle sprain. I played with it though and did everything on it."

Knox will run track this spring for Birmingham, saying the ankle is recovered and he's trying to add the weight he lost since the season ended. Knox said that his speed is his question mark.

"My forty time is about 4.6," said Knox. "Honestly, I don't have that track speed, but I have the football speed that once I'm in the open field, you're not going to catch me. I'm always messing with Raymond Carter, who I'm friends with because when we played them, he was step-for-step but couldn't bring me down. I told him you might finish fourth in the City (in the 100 meters) but you can't catch me. You went to the state meet and you thought you were fast, but you're not fast. We're cool with that though."

Knox said that academically, he'll be in fine shape. "I have a 3.1 core GPA and I'm trying to keep it as high as possible. I'll be taking the SAT in the spring and I want to get that all out of the way, so I'm not pulling my hair out," said Knox.

As for the Jackson twins, Knox said that the three of them have long talked about playing together in college."We always talk about it," said Knox. "We always say, if we all went to UCLA, or to Cal, or to Florida State, it would be us playing together like we did when were little and we'd kick it as roommates. It would be a dream come true if we all made it."

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