Gary McKnight Jr. enters the first ever Alliance of American Football season ready to make a name for himself. Playing for potentially one of the best team’s in the league, the San Diego Fleet, McKnight is ready to put his talents on display for the entire world to see.
The Lawton, Oklahoma native has been underappreciated for the majority of his football career. Despite his solid stature and freakish athleticism, scouts often overlooked him because of the level of competition he played at.
Out of high school, McKnight would attend Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, a junior college approximately four hours away from his hometown of Lawton. After completing two seasons there, McKnight would attend Division II Northeastern State University.
He was a standout for the Riverhawks, catching 90 passes for 1,846 yards and 21 touchdowns in his two seasons with the team. McKnight would enter the draft following his senior season and would eventually go undrafted. The Baltimore Ravens decided to invite him to their mini-camp, but they, unfortunately, let him go before the preseason began.
From a purely athletic standpoint, Gary McKnight Jr. is the definition of an athletic freak. He has the size (6’2″), speed (4.4 40-yard dash) and vertical leap (36″) that most team’s want to see out of a traditional outside wide receiver.
Outside of being a phenomenal football player, McKnight is slowly becoming a fan favorite off the field. Before diving into this interview, I personally want to thank him for agreeing to answer these questions. He is an outstanding person both on and off the field and I wish him nothing but the best for this upcoming season.
Q. What was it like attending a junior college? What did you learn from your junior college experience and what would you change, if anything?
A: Going to a JUCO was a very humbling experience. It makes you work for anything you want to accomplish. You have to fight for scholarships and also playing time. Going JUCO also allowed me to gain some lifetime brothers. Being around the same guys your whole entire day, you end up getting to know them really well and share moments together. You share good moments and bad moments, moments you wouldn’t trade for any others.
Q. After leaving the JUCO world, why did you choose to attend Northeastern State University? Did you have any other offers?
A: I chose to attend NSU because I felt like it would give me the best chance to show my talents and because it was near, but not so near home. I wasn’t a highly recruited player out of JUCO. I only had two Division II offers and I didn’t get the recognition that I would have liked but God had a reason for sending me to NSU.
Q. You put on a pretty dominant display while at NSU, catching 90 passes for 1,846 yards and 21 touchdowns. What was the main difference between JUCO ball and your time at NSU? What adjustments did you have to make? What was the difference in competition?
A: The biggest difference between JUCO ball and NSU was the speed of the game. The speed in JUCO was a little faster, considering you had bounce backs from other Division I schools and stuff. An adjustment that I had to make was I had to focus more on my individual game. I had to get bigger, stronger, and faster because I knew if I wanted a chance to play at the next level, I would need to improve in all areas. I was also a Division II player, so I had to make myself noticeable to scouts.
Q. What was rookie minicamp like with the Baltimore Ravens organization?
A: Rookie camp with the Ravens was a dream come true. It was everything I expected it to be and then some. I got to meet a lot of big name players, like Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III. I also learned a lot from the coaches there and it was just nice being in those facilities.
Q. What do you feel like are the strengths and weaknesses in your overall game? What are some things that YOU believe you do well, and some things that you think need improvement?
A: A few strengths I believe I have is my speed and ball skills. Also, I believe that my route running is pretty good as well. My weaknesses are blocking. I can always improve on all parts of my game. I can never be TOO good at running routes, catching the ball, or blocking.
I have said this before and I will say it again: Gary McKnight Jr. has the potential and the work ethic to be one of the best wide receivers in the entire AAF.