March 8, 2012

Knox just wants a chance



For former Bulldog Jon Knox, Monday's Pro Day in Athens was one final shot at football glory - one final opportunity to realize his dream of playing in the NFL.

"When I first got to Butts-Mehre I was blown away by the new facilities and all the changes they had around there, but it was great. I felt like I was back at home," Knox said. "There were a lot of memories … it was just like I was there yesterday."

In reality, it had been nearly three years.

A native of Statesboro, where he played high school ball with former Bulldogs DeAngelo Tyson and Justin Houston, Knox signed in 2007 with Georgia, where he played until he was dismissed from the team in 2009 for academic reasons.

That's when Knox's roller-coaster career really took a crazy turn.

After initially deciding to attend Georgia Military, Knox bolted for Memphis, which Knox said had agreed to offer him a scholarship to play for the Tigers.

There was just one problem. According to Knox, the scholarship never came and it was off to Northwest Mississippi CC, where he played linebacker, collecting 58 tackles in 2009.

That would be the last we'd hear from Knox on the football field, until last Monday, when Richt followed through on an earlier promise to Knox to allow him to take part in Georgia's Pro Day whenever he felt he was ready to give it a shot.

Monday was that day.

"The same day me and Coach Richt talked, my last day in Athens, I asked him whenever my Pro Day comes, could I have a chance to come back and do it here," said Knox, who signed with Murray State after his year at NW Mississippi, but never saw the field. "He said 'Of course, you're a Bulldog. You'll always be a Bulldog no matter where you go.'"

Yes, Knox's story is different than most.

Unlike the rest of Georgia's draft-eligible players who have been working out with professional trainers to prepare, Knox has been back in Statesboro, where he's been working out with his former Blue Devil coaches.

Knox blames nobody but himself for what happened during his brief time at Georgia.

"Yeah, I regret a lot of things; I learned you can't take anything for granted," he said. "I kind of beat myself up when I was there, where I was on the depth chart and it came back to haunt me. But I was also slacking in school and I just thought at the time. I thought that nobody cared for me, but I was just a young kid. Now, I've learned from it and hopefully somebody can find a position for me."

The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder took part in each of the drills in front of representatives from 30 of the 32 NFL teams in attendance.

He benched 13 reps at 225 pounds, posted a vertical leap of 35 inches and had a broad jump of 10-6.

Knox hopes he made the right impression.

"I think with my size, I can move down in the box; I can play the high post, I can play on top," Knox said. "I can help a team out with just my will to want to play ball again. I just want to let people know that I'm still out there and I'm hungrier than I've ever been."

But even if it doesn't, Knox said having the opportunity to be back at Georgia and competing with old teammates and friends made his effort worthwhile.

"I was just trying to do the best I can because I've pretty much been on my own as far as all that, but I was definitely happy to be back out there," he said. "It's something I'll never forget."

With the NFL Draft still over a month away, Knox will continue to work out, including some upcoming sessions with Houston who is coming off a successful rookie campaign with the Kansas City Chiefs.

He's still in the process of finding an agent, too. But like everything else, Knox is confident that too will come.

"I'm still searching for that, too, but right now I'm just trying to focus on doing the right things," said Knox. "But that (an agent) will come soon; I know that's something that can help a guy like me. I just want a chance."