It’s no secret that I was a big fan of the Hurricanes 2020 recruiting class. When you look across the board, there’s future playmakers and potential superstars at almost every position. One of my favorite from the group is running back Jaylan Knighton, the former FSU commit, who I think has a very bright future in Coral Gables.
Jaylan Knighton is a Miami Hurricane. RUN ROOSTER RUN— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) December 18, 2019
Coming from Deerfield Beach, Knighton, or “Rooster” as some call him, was one of the finest running backs in the entire country, as he became the second all-time leading rusher in the history of Broward County, finishing with 5,174 yards on the ground.
Congrats to our '20 RB @jaylan_knighton for surpassing the 5,000 career rushing mark and becoming the 2nd All Time leading rusher in BROWARD COUNTY HISTORY! #BeachBoys #AndStillCounting #MakeHistory pic.twitter.com/N2LCAxsIpj— Deerfield Beach Football (@DB_BucksFB) November 27, 2019
Knighton chose the Hurricanes several weeks after de-committing from the Seminoles, and his decision was one of the biggest recruiting battles that Miami won for the 2020 cycle. The biggest reason why I was so excited when Knighton signed, was because he’s a player that I think can contribute right away as a true freshman, beginning next week when spring practices starts.
My top 3 true freshmen to make an impact:— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) February 6, 2020
Avantae Williams https://t.co/yIhxVh3Bo6
The aspect of Knighton’s game that separates him from other Miami backs is his speed, especially when the football is in his hands. His quickness and acceleration I think fits perfectly into Rhett Lashlee’s modern and up-tempo spread offense, which is the same kind of system he played in at Deerfield Beach in high school.
Miami’s backfield just got some serious speed with Rooster pic.twitter.com/aTGTDYUZW9— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) November 28, 2019
These skills also translate to Knighton being a threat in the passing game as well, which will serve him very nicely in Lashlee’s offense, as he’ll create a mismatch nightmare for defenders. So I'd expect to see Knighton used frequently in screen plays or swing passes, anything that’ll get him the football in open space.
reminder that the Rooster is a Miami Hurricane pic.twitter.com/pXkGtfRbMY— Mamba Marsh (@hurricanesmarsh) February 26, 2020
Knighton is the kind of home run hitter that the Hurricanes haven’t had at the running back position since perhaps Mark Walton or maybe even Duke Johnson. Deejay Dallas was solid at Miami, and Cam’ron Harris will most likely be the starter at RB, but you wouldn't consider them home run hitters in the backfield.
His speed makes him special, but Knighton’s power is what surprises people. Standing at 5”9 and weighing 194 pounds, many are taken back how Knighton was able to just run through defenders. The strength is just another reason why his running style was compared to Dalvin Cook in high school.
However, it’s not just at the running back position where I think Knighton could serve the Hurricanes right away, but also as a return specialist. With his vision and acceleration, why not put him back there on a kickoff or a punt?
Another reason why I believe Knighton is going to make an impact year one for Miami, is because the other true freshman running back for UM, Don Chaney, will not be participating in spring practice due to an injury. If Knighton is able to learn Lashlee’s playbook quickly, I believe his athleticism will do the rest and he’ll be backing up Harris to begin the regular season.