Written By Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
There are now 62 days remaining until the Indiana Hoosiers kick-off the 2016 season in Miami against the Florida International Golden Panthers. Join us each day for each part of our 100-day countdown to the opener! After donning both 62 and 89 last season Brandon Knight will be back for his sophomore year in number 62.
Brandon Knight (Sophomore)
-Weight: 290 pounds
-Hometown: Noblesville, Indiana
-Position: Offensive Line
While the Hoosiers have shuffled players in-and-out at quarterback because of injuries and transfers the last four seasons, the one constant was the man protecting their blindside, Jason Spriggs. The 47-game starter Spriggs has moved onto the NFL and sophomore Brandon Knight looks to slide over into the newly vacated position.
Conventional wisdom would tell you to expect a significant drop off in performance when transitioning from an All-American four-year starter to a player who has yet to play a down at the position. However, the drop off might not be as drastic as one might think.
The Noblesville native had an outstanding prep career and was considered one of the top players in the state, twice named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association Top 50 and was a member of Indiana Associated Press Class 6A All-State team as a senior.
His offer list was evidence of his talent and future potential. In addition to Indiana, he also had offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, N.C. State, Purdue, Syracuse, Toledo, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Western Michigan. However, the allure of playing close to home for one of the country’s best offensive line coaches in Greg Frey was too much to pass up on, so he pulled the trigger for the Cream and Crimson on June 22, 2014.
Knight made his way to Bloomington last summer, as a member of the Hoosiers 2015 class. Expectations going into the season were that he was unlikely to see significant playing time, barring unforeseen injuries.
Well, that is exactly what happened. After filling in on a couple of plays for Spriggs early in the season, Knight next saw the field at tight end. Injuries decimated the position’s depth and the team was in need of a physical blocker to use in their running game.
Many believed that Knight would be used exclusively as a blocking tight-end, and it played out that way until the fourth quarter of the team’s final regular season game. And then the unthinkable happened.
Touchdown Brandon Knight! Admit it, you, I nor the Boilermakers could have saw that coming. Making matters worse for Purdue fans, they all but thought Knight would one day play in the Black and Gold, as many members of his family had attended the school in West Lafayette. Talk about pouring salt in a wound.
During the offseason Knight worked diligently in the weight room to add some more bulk to his frame, going from 278 to 290-pounds, bringing him closer to an ideal weight for a Big Ten offensive lineman.
When spring practice had rolled around Knight had moved into his new role at left tackle, running with the first group of offensive lineman. Wilson praised Knight’s development to this point, comparing favorable to two of Indiana’s all-time great offensive lineman.
“He’s doing well,” Wilson said after practice Tuesday. “I think he’s farther along than probably where (Dan) Feeney and Spriggs were as young guys.”
Wilson was also pointed out what makes him such a special talent, and why he has the potential to be another remarkable player on the offensive line for Indiana.
“He’s very athletic and tough, likes to play,” Wilson said. “He’s a very coachable kid that, I think in time, if he stays healthy and continues to develop, he’ll have a good year, and he’s on track to have a strong career.”
While potentially the only player to start on the offensive line in 2016 that’s not a fifth-year senior, there might be some concern that his lack of experience could be detrimental to the unit’s overall cohesiveness and effectiveness.
However, based on what we saw in the spring coupled with already possessing physical stature and athleticism needed to play in the big ten, Knight appears capable of stepping into the role without much trepidation.
So while it may seem a little premature or a bit unfair to start comparisons to the former All-American Spriggs, there is reason to believe that over time he could start delivering some of the same performances we have come so accustomed to at left tackle these last few years.
Share any memories or recollections you have of Brandon Knight as a player in the comments section (or on the message boards) and be sure to come back to Hoosier Huddle each day during our countdown!