March 13, 2008

Knox catching on

A reporter does a double-take as strong safety John Knox walks into the team meeting room at the Butts-Mehre Building.

Was that really him?

Listed at 194 in Georgia's spring media guide, Knox is proud to report that he's up to 210 pounds with sights on getting up to 220 before all is said and done.

"That's the plan," Knox said in an exclusive interview with UGASports. "I've put on 15 pounds since the end of last year, but I want to get to 220."

His reason is simple.

"I watched guys like Thomas Davis, like Greg Blue; that's how I learn my roles, from the best guys," Knox said. "Coach (Willie) Martinez talks about those guys all the time and shows us film, and that's very motivating. We all know how good those guys were and we want to get in the same position. We want to go out there and do what they did."

After a slow start to his college career, Knox appears to be catching on and is running third team at strong safety behind starter C.J. Byrd and top backup Quintin Banks.

While being third team may sound like a long ways from playing time, Knox is actually much further along than he was last year when he struggled to get down Georgia's intricate defensive system.

"It was kind of frustrating coming out of high school because you're used to playing and you see all the other guys out there having a good time. I was very anxious to go out there and play," Knox said. "But the redshirting helped me. It made me get stronger, both physically and mentally. Now, I know what to expect, so overall it was a great thing."

A member of Rivals.com's Top 50 in Georgia, Knox was also ranked as the nation's No. 52 free safety his senior year at Statesboro High.

"In high school, we used just the one safety," Knox explained. "But obviously, once I got up here, things moved a lot faster. There were a ton of plays I had to learn, but right now everything is going great."

That includes the training he's learned to play both the free and strong safety positions.

"Really, all the safeties are trained to play both at free and strong, depending on the offense we're playing and the rotations that are being used," Knox said. "That way, we can swap sides, know both rows and just adjust from that."

Knox said he's made other adjustments as well.

"I know from working out my redshirt year when I was getting used to the speed of the receivers, that I had to really learn my man coverage," Knox said. "Now, this spring I'm taking a more physical approach to my cover skills, although Coach Martinez has us playing more like a sponge, and not to much man-on-man."

Knox says he's just itching to finally play.

"Right now I'm just trying to fill in," he said. "We've got some great leaders here and some great coaches who do whatever they can to help us. That's why I'm using this time to get better and when the fall comes be ready to see some action out there."


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