The 14th installment of this 23-part Better Know a Buckeye series profiles Demetrius Knox, an offensive line (guard) prospect from Fort Worth, Texas. Knox's recruitment by, commitment to, and signature with Ohio State was eventful. Like Jamarco Jones profiled last week, Knox was a threat to decommit from Ohio State in the eleventh hour. This was prior to the late intervention by Texas Tom. Knox signed with Ohio State with the rest of his classmates on National Signing Day.
I retell this story below before proceeding with this feature in the usual fashion. After discussing his recruitment and commitment to Ohio State (and Texas before it), I mention strengths and areas for improvement. I offer a projection of a redshirt in 2014 before providing highlight film. I conclude with various things about Knox you may find interesting.
High School: All Saints' Episcopal School; Fort Worth, TX
Finishing the 2014 recruiting cycle as the fifth-ranked offensive guard in the country, 15th best prospect in Texas, and a top 100 player nationally, Knox's recruitment was national. By the end of his sophomore year of high school, Knox had offers from Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and UCLA, among strong interest from Texas and Texas A&M. Ohio State offered Knox during this flurry in May 2012.
Though Knox had his choice of several great offers, including the Alabama offer, his recruitment through the summer of 2012 focused on two schools. One was Ohio State. As Ohio State fans know by now, it was common knowledge that Knox was a lifelong Ohio State fan. His fandom followed him when his family moved from the Dayton area to Fort Worth in Knox's youth. He was a childhood friend of Braxton Miller and copped to owning an Ohio State snuggie while on the recruiting trail. He was even trolling Michigan fans about losing to Ohio State when it was uncertain he would sign with Ohio State.
The other school was Texas. Texas took firm control of Knox's recruitment through the summer and fall of 2012. The reasons were multiple. Texas was one of many schools to offer an All Saints Episcopal teammate, Daniel Gresham, who committed to Texas on August 7th, 2012. Knox enjoyed his time in a camp being trained by then-offensive line coach Stacy Searels (now at Virginia Tech). All told, Knox may have just consumed the proverbial Kool-Aid when he moved to Texas. Texas' pole position in his recruitment held through the summer.
It also held when Knox announced a commitment date for November 26, 2012.
His First Commitment
Demetrius Knox committed to Texas on November 26, 2012. He joined his friend and high school teammate, Daniel Gresham, as early commits to Texas' 2014 recruiting class.
“It’s Texas,” Knox said. “I decided that it was the place for me. I’m happy to be a Longhorn and couldn’t be more sure of my decision. Texas is a great school and the state of Texas, even though I’m originally from Ohio, is even better. I love it here.”
Additional comments about what led to his decision underscored that Knox had just consumed the proverbial Kool-Aid and became hooked into all things burnt orange and Bevo when he moved to Texas.
“Basically I woke up one day and decided to pick a school,” Knox told Hookem.com. “I talked to family and friends and UT kept coming up as the best choice. We talked about it all and everyone seemed to think Texas was the right place for me, which I definitely agreed. Finally the bell rung for class to start and on the way to class I passed 3 people wearing UT hats, some wearing sweat shirts and one person having a UT stuffed Bevo type deal. It was like a crazy sign or something.”
Knox said his recruitment was over and that he was 100-percent sold on his decision. He selected Texas over Ohio State, Texas Christian, and Alabama, among others.
Visiting Ohio State, Decommitting from Texas
Despite his commitment and assurances his recruitment was over, other programs kept recruiting Knox. He was receptive to recruiters as well. For Ohio State fans, Knox was officially back in play when he announced he would take an unofficial visit to Ohio State at the end of March 2013.
This is noteworthy for a couple reasons. One, Knox committed to Texas also saying that "something incredibly drastic would have to happen" if he were to change his mind. Though not necessarily "drastic", Texas' 9-4 campaign in 2012 made discussions of Mack Brown's "hot seat" much more real. Texas had gone 5-7, 8-5 and 9-4 after losing to Alabama in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. It had also lost to Red River rivals Oklahoma by a combined 80 points in the last two seasons. Texas' aspirations are figuratively "Texas-sized" to complement its own television network and the college football's largest revenue stream. Texas's 2012 season brought the eyes of the state upon Mack Brown with a glare.
Second, Knox committed to Texas without seeing Ohio State on the recruiting trail. A trip to Columbus to visit his childhood favorite program while also visiting family and relatives still in Ohio became a priority.
Third, Mack Brown had a hard-line position against taking unofficial or official visits to other programs while committed to Texas. Like Brady Hoke at Michigan, Mack Brown considers a recruit no longer committed when he takes a visit elsewhere. It may have meant Knox was back in play for Ohio State.
When Knox announced the visit, he did so assuring Texas fans that the visit was to see his family still in Ohio. His father, still living in Ohio, wanted him to see the university while he was there. He also said he had an understanding with Mack Brown about the visit and that the Texas coach was okay with it.
“The coaches were very surprised. They kind of thought I was joking at first,” Knox told HornsNation. “I didn’t want to put it on social media or talk to anybody until they felt it was right to put it out there. They said they could keep me on their commit list until I openly told the public I was going to take visits somewhere else. I told them it was best to take me off.”
Shortly thereafter, Knox announced he was considering Ohio State, UCLA, Alabama, and Miami, among others. He even had tentative official visits in line to Ohio State, UCLA, and Florida State.
However, the decommitment from Texas implied a lean toward Ohio State even if UCLA emerged as the front-runner in the early summer of 2013. Projections of Knox to Ohio State increased as the summer progressed.
His Second Commitment
On July 28, 2013, Demetrius Knox committed to Ohio State as the 14th member of its 2014 recruiting class. He told Eleven Warriors how he delivered the news to Urban Meyer.
"I told (Meyer) 'I know I said I was going to wait a little longer to decide what school I'm going to but I feel like it's best if I go ahead and pull the trigger'," Knox told Eleven Warriors. "I said, 'I am really am thankful that y'all recruited me and everything. I really just wanted to call you up and tell you I appreciate everything coach."
"I think he was worried I was committing somewhere else, because he started talking about how he thought Ohio State was in good shape with me, etc. I was like 'Wait, what do you mean coach? I am committing to the Buckeyes.'"
He also discussed how Ohio State finally secured his commitment in lieu of UCLA, which emerged as the tentative favorite after Knox decommitted from Texas.
"One of the biggest lures of UCLA was the environment in Los Angeles is just so cool and there was so much to do," Knox said of the draw of a commitment to UCLA. "But I was talking to a friend of mine and he was like, 'Meech, you're too laid back for that,' and he was right."
"All I need is five friends max at my house playing a game and just chilling is a good night for me. I can always vacation in L.A."
Not on Tom Herman's Watch
Knox's comments to Eleven Warriors about how difficult it was to say "no thanks" to UCLA's coaching staff says two things about Knox's recruitment. One is the effectiveness of Adrian Klemm, the UCLA offensive line coach who does not get enough recognition for his credentials as a position coach and recruiter. The second is that Knox's commitment to Ohio State echoed his commitment to Texas. He committed to Texas without getting to see Ohio State. He committed to Ohio State without getting to see UCLA.
Ohio State fans learned that Knox was thinking about visiting UCLA on the weekend of January 31-February 1 of this year. This set in a small panic among Ohio State fans who were also dealing with Jamarco Jones' second thoughts about his commitment to Ohio State. Ohio State's coaches responded by sending Tom Herman, Urban Meyer, and Ed Warinner to Fort Worth for an in-home visit.
The in-home visit did the trick. Tom Herman took to Twitter to assure Ohio State fans that flags were firmly planted in Fort Worth, hashtagging #notonmywatch to punctuate his message.
Shortly thereafter, Ohio State fans were treated to a family photo of Knox with his mother and Ed Warinner. Urban Meyer had an impromptu photobomb behind them.
Knox signed with Ohio State on National Signing Day.
Where He Excels
Demetrius Knox is one of Ohio State's top recruiting prizes for its 2014 class. A top 100 national prospect regardless of position, Knox is advanced enough to receive immediate attention in Ohio State's two-deep when he enrolls.
Knox has just about everything befitting a top 100 prospect in his recruiting class. He moves his feet well for a prospect his size and stature. His arm length and punch are great, almost "elite" even. He is a finisher too, dominating one, sometimes even two, defenders ahead of him. That he performed so well in combines across the country against fellow top 100 prospects on the other side of the line underscores the confidence in him.
Must Work On
Knox was a tackle in high school but projects as a guard at Ohio State. I do not think he would be a necessarily bad tackle at the college level either. Projections of him as a guard in college and not a tackle focus more on his mobility as a tackle and less about height or size. He has a guard's frame but that may not be the whole story for why he projects as a guard at Ohio State.
Lower back injuries hampered much of his junior season and may have slowed his development somewhat. I do think Knox is one of those recruits who stands to benefit the most from a college football strength and conditioning program.
Knox has quick hands and a great "punch", but he is more certain now as a run-blocker than a pass-blocker. I keep saying this for every offensive line prospect but it is true for Knox as well.
I feel comfortable saying Knox will not redshirt in 2014 though I am curious how much time he can command in Ohio State's two-deep in 2014. The interior of that offensive line and even right tackle opposite Taylor Decker are questions Ohio State fans will ask about this team in the summer.
Senior year film follows.
- I will defer to the resident 11W historian, but Knox should have the distinction of the first 11W member to play football for Ohio State. He blogged about his recruiting experience on 11W too.
- 11W Community Interview.
- USA Today interview. In it, he expressed an interest in computer engineering as a major.
- Was one of the recipients of the Lombardi Award given to high school players across the country.
- His high school teammate, Daniel Gresham, had an interesting recruitment. He decommitted from Texas two weeks after Knox and pledged to Louisville on June 26, 2013. When Charlie Strong left Louisville for, yes, Texas, incoming coach Bobby Petrino pulled Gresham's scholarship offer on January 13 of this year. Gresham scrambled for a new home, ultimately committing to and signing with Southern Methodist.
- Knox played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl along with almost every other member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.
- All Saints' Episcopal School went undefeated in Knox's junior and senior year. A 49-27 win over St. John's (Houston) in Knox' penultimate game was the closest margin of victory for the Saints in 2013.