Maybe my favorite cornerback that I ever watched play was former Ohio State cornerback Antoine Winfield. He was a pretty good cover guy, but there wasn’t anyone who tackled like him at the position. It was like the Buckeyes had another linebacker out on the field.
I saw a little bit of Winfield when I watched Nigel Knott tackle. He’s undersized just like Winfield, but hits harder than some of the top outside linebackers in this recruiting class. The Germantown High (Mississippi) cornerback has a lot of other raw tools to go with that aggressive tackling and that’s why he is considered on the top cornerbacks in the nation.
Knott has outstanding speed and ridiculous acceleration. He shows explosiveness when breaking on the football. He is slim and doesn’t have the ideal measurables, but he plays a lot bigger than his dimensions because of his leaping ability and incredible strength for his size.
There aren’t many cornerbacks that tackle like Knott can. He brings full force and will hit through on contact. Even if he can’t get a player lined up for a big hit, he shows incredibly strong hands. Once he grabs cloth, he is going to secure that tackle. He is so aggressive and does such a great job of coming fast from depth and beating blocks to make plays.
With the way his film was shot really tight without a lot of wide shots showing the secondary, I’d be lying if I got too deep critiquing his technique. The brief instances I did get to see a wider view, he looked a tad undisciplined and relied more on his athleticism, but wow, can he close on the football in a hurry. When he sees the football in the air, he gets to where he needs to be extremely quickly.
He shows good ball skills to get his hands on a lot of footballs and he will go up and attack the ball in the air. He didn’t always finish with interceptions though and there were plenty of opportunities where he got two hands on the ball and didn’t come down with it.
He is an impact player on special teams whether it’s blocking kicks or as a gunner on the punt team. His speed, awesome effort, and fearlessness is unique for a player as highly touted as he is as a cornerback.
Knott might be one of those rare prospects that can play just about anywhere in the secondary. I think he will especially excel in the nickel.
He will step right in and make an immediate contribution on special teams and continue to do so throughout his college career. Athletically, I don’t see how he won’t be able to find a spot in his future school’s secondary and be a starter for multiple seasons.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).