Eyes on the Enemy: Joe McKnight

By Chris Lauderback on September 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm
McKnight: Dreaming of NFL payday (via TrojanWire)

With a trip to the Coliseum slowly approaching, we plan to take a quick look at a few of USC's more notable players in an effort to increase your familiarity, get your blood boiling and increase your hatred of L.A.'s only professional football team.

In truth, we have great respect for Surfer Pete's program although it's hard to understand how USC could ever have a down period considering the recruiting advantages afforded a team with their geography, ladies and tradition.

Today, we take a quick look at Joe McKnight, the tailback who teams with C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson to give the Trojans a lethal stable of running backs.

It's impressive that Carroll was able to land McKnight considering his Louisiana pedigree coinciding with the emergence of LSU as an elite national powerhouse. Of course, the commitment wasn't without the usual USC controversy as reports of McKnight basically saying he had a conference call with Carroll and Reggie Bush swirled on signing day. Eventually, McKnight decided he remembered the event incorrectly paving his way to LA and out of his Katrina ravaged hometown.

His freshman season at USC didn't quite measure up to the hype but the legit TD threat as a runner, receiver and return specialist did tally a solid 5.7 yards per carry (94/540, 3TD), 23 catches (8.8 avg, 1TD) and returned 19 punts for 160 yards (8.42 avg).

McKnight blew up in the Rose Bowl running 10 times for 125 yards (1 TD) while grabbing 6 passes for 45 yards in the 49-17 thrashing of Illinois. That game was supposed to be his coming out party but he ran into some bad luck during fall camp.

The misadventures started when he was hit with a raging case of jock itch causing him to miss a practice then he had his right hand slammed in a door before hyperextending his elbow the following week causing him to miss additional time. Basically, don't stand next to dude during a thunderstorm.

In the season opener, McKnight was used sparingly as the Trojans put a 52-7 spanking on a bad UVA squad. The Trojans did, however, showcase his dual threat skills running him 6 times for 60 yards in addition to 4 catches for 24 yards.

This youtube has been making the rounds so you might have already peeped it, but if not it's worth a look as his rushing, receiving and return skills are on display. There's little doubt OSU will need to slow down McKnight if they have designs on an upset.