Curtis talks about McKnight recruitment

WeAreSC caught up with J.T. Curtis, the high school coach for Joe McKnight, to shed some light on a variety of topics relating to the recruiting process for his star running back:

SS: Coach, what did it come down to and why did Joe choose USC?

JTC: Well, I think there were a couple of things. One, I think in the back of his mind, he was thinking he wanted to get away and look at a new part of the country--and enjoy some different experiences. Of course, the football program at USC is attractive for him and just as important, they have an excellent public relations/communications department (Annenberg). He was extremely impressed with his visit and their commitment to helping him if that's the area he wanted to go in with internships, and things of that nature. That was very intriguing to him and that's something he really wants to do. I think in the end, educationally he thought it would be an excellent opportunity to experience something he might not be able to at other schools.

SS: As far as majoring in communications is concerned. Is there anything specific Joe is interested in?

JTC: Yeah, he's really interested in broadcast journalism. He believes that's something he'd like to do. He's a bright kid and he felt like he needed to be at a place that would help advance his skills, and abilities in moving in that direction. USC was an obvious choice in terms of the quality of the (communications) program.

SS: What has USC been telling Joe about where he'll fit in on the football field?

JTC: The recruiting talk, you mean (Curtis laughing)?They (USC) actually have been very honest and upfront. They think Joe will bring some unique abilities to the field. They want to use him as a running back, they want to use him in motion, get him out wide as a wide receiver, get him in the slot and get him the ball in the open field. Coach (Pete) Carroll was very open about that and Joe is very clear about how they want to use him in a multiplicity of ways. So, that was also very appealing to him.

SS: USC signed three running backs in its 200 class to go along with a pretty good number already on the roster. Was the depth chart ever a concern for Joe?

JTC: "I really don't think it was. Joe understands about competition and understands that he'll have to compete--and he doesn't shy away from that. So, it was really more about the school and the opportunities the school provided than the depth chart.

SS: With USC located in Los Angeles, the No. 2 media market in the country--was that a factor in Joe's decision?

JTC: I don't think there's any question about that. That was something he took note of and something he was interested in. He thought being in Los Angeles might give him an opportunity to advance his career. From a practicality stand-point, others schools might not be able to offer what USC does.

SS: I saw Joe at USC's Skills Position Camp in June. There was just something about him that was incredibly impressive. Not only as a football player, but the way Joe carries himself. How would you describe the way he plays football?

JTC: Well, he plays with a great deal of competitiveness. He loves to play football, No. 1, and he's a guys who's continually trying to improve himself. I mean, he's just like any other kid. He has areas he needs to improve and get better at. And he'll have to adjust to the speed of the game he's getting into. But he's ability to learn and his ability to see the field, is what I really think will give him an opportunity to contribute a little earlier than some people. He's not just a kid who is skilled, he's a kid who understands the game and learns well. I would anticipate him having a shortened learning curve that might give him a chance to get on the field a little quicker than the average freshman.

SS: At, we are asked all the time, why Joe didn't have many carries or receptions.

JTC: What, do they think we could have won more games? (excellent reply) Let me say to you, in fairness to Joe and a lot of people who don't know Joe or anything about our program (John Curtis Christian). We are a team and we win as a team, and we're going to win as a team. There were other very good players besides Joe on our team. Joe understood that and understood his role. He understood when teams double covered him, that opened up opportunities for other backs to make big runs, make big plays--and they did. When the opportunity came when he was in single coverage or in play-action passes, he was scoring touchdowns or making big plays. What you want to look at with Joe and his statistics, are his average yards per carry and average yards per catch. Those were incredible. Another thing is, I would say in three-quarters of the games we played, Joe only played a half. That's just the way our philosophy is. We want to give the younger the opportunity to play the game when we're up big in games, and not concern ourselves with statistics. It's been very successful for us. Other people might do it differently and I understand that, but that's just not how we do it.

SS: We did an interview with Joe the week of the Army All-American Bowl. During that interview, Joe said he had already decided on a school. We didn't ask him which school, but what were the reason for choosing the school. Joe said the reasons were the head coach, the coach recruiting him and the running backs coach. Would say it's accurate to assume the coaches were Pete Carroll, Ken Norton Jr. and Todd McNair?

JTC: "No, and I'll tell you why I wouldn't say that. I think you could have gone back and said it could have meant Les Miles and Larry Porter (LSU running backs), who did an excellent job. I don't think there's any question that Joe had some concerns in his mind (about USC). You have to remember, the Army All-American Bowl was before Joe got into the recruiting process. So, a lot of athletes , prior to that bowl game, already had exposure to the recruiting process and had finished much sooner than Joe. At that point in time, Joe had not taken an official visit, anywhere. So, he didn't really completely understand what those trips were like. Once he got there, things changed. He found out there were other options available to him. There were other schools that had appeal and I definitely think he went through a process of elimination. I don't think it was decided way back then (Army AA Bowl), I can tell you that. Top Stories