NCAA Spotlight: Catching up with former IR football standout Marquel Knight
Anyone who doesn’t remember Marquel Knight probably didn’t catch too many Indian River High School football games in the past few years — or pick up a copy of the Coastal Point to read the sports section, for that matter.
One of the key players on the Indians’ 2011 state championship team, Knight racked up 45 total touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. As a wide receiver his junior year, he pulled in 73 passes for 1,168 yards with former-IR-quarterback-turned-Major-League-Baseball-prospect Jamie Jarmon under center.
After Jarmon graduated, Knight took control of the offense and was implemented in more of a running back role, carrying the ball 261 times for 1,838 yards, for an average of more than 7 yards per carry, and leading the Indians to their second consecutive Henlopen South title.
Not only was Knight named first-team All-State as a senior at running back, but he also excelled defensively and was named second-team All-State as a safety.
Head football coach Ray Steele certainly remembers Knight’s production on the football field, but he also emphasized his character as a leader.
“A determined young man who loved to win,” Steele recalled. “Marquel developed into a great leader who competed to win every time he stepped onto the field.”
Knight’s impressive high school football résumé earned him a trip to Tampa Bay, Fla., to compete against some of the nation’s best players in the Blue/Grey All-Star game at Raymond James Stadium, and eventually landed him a scholarship to Division I Delaware State University.
Currently, Knight is focusing on his studies, to earn enough credits to be able to start participating in team activities.
“It’s kind of like a redshirt,” he explained. “My goal is to get back on the field next fall. “I need to get 24 credits. I currently have 15 right now. I had a 3.0 my first semester, so I have nine more to go.”
Though he was working on his academics this past fall, Knight found time to attend a few games at his alma mater — and he was impressed with what he saw of his former team.
“They played great. They did better than what people expected,” he said of the Indians’ third consecutive Henlopen South title. “[They] competed really well. They were young, but they still played hard.”
When asked about his replacement at safety and protégé Tim Roberts, Knight acknowledged Roberts’ impressive season and said he was proud to see that years of tutelage had paid off.
“Tim played great. He did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Knight said of his former teammate. “He played under Jamie, then played under me. And then senior year came, and whatever we taught him, he used it.”
Once Knight is able to put his pads back on, he’ll likely see time as an inside receiver, rather than his previous positions at quarterback, running back or safety.
“I’ll most likely be playing inside receiver — slot man,” he said. “That’s my primary position.”
The DSU Hornets are coming off a 5-6 season and are returning all of their leading receivers from 2013, including redshirt freshman and Smyrna graduate Malik Golson. If Knight can work his way into a starting role with the team, he’ll have the benefit of being able to grow with redshirt freshman quarterback Esayah Obado, who saw action in four games last season and should be the favorite to win the starting role in 2014.
Despite the young receiving corps and year off from football, Knight is confident that, when he finally gets the chance to compete, he’ll be more than capable of proving himself. “All this time I have until real practice, I have to work hard on my body, and I will be fine.”
While he remains focused on getting back on the field, the former Friday-night star does admit to missing his days back at IR.
“Friday nights, I do miss,” Knight reminisced. “It was one of the best times of my life in high school. Some of the greatest moments of my career happened here — so I miss it a little bit.”
He said he also hopes that his former fans will continue to support him throughout his collegiate career.
“I just want everybody to come and support me at Delaware State,” he urged. “In 2014, I hope to be back on the field.”