When Joe McKnight entered USC in 2007, some wondered if head coach Pete Carroll had cloned Reggie Bush, USC's Heisman Trophy-winning running back who was chosen with the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
McKnight never lived up to those Heisman-level expectations, going so far as to give his college career "a C grade".
"I was frustrated with the injuries," McKnight said. "I couldn't really be that back that Coach Carroll wanted me to be. I tried my best, but it just didn't turn it out that way."
McKnight doesn't think those comparisons to Bush were unfair.
"No. It wasn't unfair," McKnight said. "Everybody gets compared to somebody, but that's what my biggest problem was--trying to be so much like him (Bush), instead of just being Joe McKnight and playing Joe McKnight football."
While McKnight won't be chosen as highly in this year's draft as Bush was in 2006, he might have a hard time shaking the Bush comparisons after he was measured at 5-11 and 198 pounds on Friday. (Bush was 5-11, 201 pounds in '06)
McKnight said his personal best in the 40 was 4.37 (Bush ran a 4.37 during his Pro Day in '06), which he said he'd try to best on Sunday.
"I'm going to shoot for the stars and the low 4.3s," McKnight. "I'm not going to say I'm going to get it, (but) I'm shooting for it."
McKnight officially ran a 4.47 in the 40, put up 18 reps in the bench press, showed off a 36.5" vertical leap and 9'1 broad jump.
Splitting carries during his college career has McKnight feeling like he can carry a heavier load in the NFL.
"It's going to help me a lot because it will save hits on my body," McKnight said. "Coming into the league, you know a lot of running backs don't make it past 30. Prime example, LT (LaDainian Tomlinson) and Brian Westbrook. But me rotating with all these different backs at SC was a big help for me on my body and on my mental state.
"This past season I went from having eight carries a game to 15 carries a game. I feel like I can be that 20-carry a game guy. Just keeping my body in shape, and after every game, stay in that training room getting treatment."
McKnight said that he had made his decision to enter the NFL Draft before Carroll took the Seattle Seahawks head coaching job, adding that he "can't wait to see what he's (Carroll's) going to do in the league."
Being picked on the first day would be nice, but McKnight said he "just hope somebody picks me up."
And if that somebody were Carroll?
"Maybe. I hope so."
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.
USC's McKnight Ready to Carry Heavier Load
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