A fan-favorite series is coming back to the site as it is officially prospect interview season. For anybody new to the site or for people who need a reminder, every draft season I sit down with prospects that are going to be in the upcoming NFL Draft to talk with them about their off-field accomplishments and some film aspects on the field. While I don’t always talk to star players, I have been able to talk to a few players who eventually ended up with the Colts such as Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, and Rock Ya-Sin.
Our next prospect interview is with Marshall running back Brenden Knox. We had a great conversation about how complete his game is, his style as a bruising back, and why vision is so important for a running back.
Weight: 215 pounds
40 Time (Pro Day): 4.63 seconds
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
Bench Reps: 23
Knox was an unrated prospect coming out of Franklin Heights High School in Columbus, Ohio. While he didn’t play too much early on in his freshman season, he finished the year strong and carried the momentum into his sophomore year. As the starter in year two, he exploded on the scene as he earned the All-Conference USA Player of the Year award. He followed that up with yet another productive season as a junior in 2020. He finished his career with 550 carries for 2,852 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Knox was also a game captain 17 times in his college career and excelled off the field in the classroom as well.
ZH: You broke out as a sophomore as you had over 1,200 yards rushing. What was the key to your breakout year?
BK: I feel like a big part of that, for me, was just being able to wait my turn and being able to do the things that others weren’t doing. You kind of have that salty taste in your mouth when you aren’t getting the ball, and it makes you appreciate the game more because you waited so long to get your shot. Once I got it, I took it and ran with it.
ZH: I loved seeing how many times you were a game captain for your team. How was the transition of stepping into a leadership role for you?
BK: To be honest, I wasn’t very comfortable with it at first because, honestly, I’m not the type of guy to be too vocal. Being in that role was uncomfortable for me at first, but once people gain that respect for you and look up to you, it becomes more natural. Once I noticed that, I would start speaking up more because I recognized they respected my opinion.
ZH: I love how complete your game is on film. You can obviously rush at a high level but you can also catch the ball and pass protect well. Was that a big emphasis for you at Marshall?
BK: It was very important to me. Just for me looking at different types of people, because I like studying the game, I saw a lot of guys that are good at just one thing. For me, I wanted to different and be well-rounded at everything. I wanted to really sharpen up every aspect that I could.
ZH: I think that really shows in how you pass protect. Was that area a big focus for you or was it more of a positional coach philosophy?
BK: It was a huge focus for me. In college and the NFL, they are basically the same when it comes to having to trust you as a running back. They have to be able to trust you to keep the quarterback clean, or you aren’t going to play. That’s how I got my trust early on, being able to show that this was something I could do at a high level.
ZH: To keep with that trustworthy trend, you only fumbled the ball once in your career. That goes along the same lines, right?
BK: Yeah man. Pepe Pearson, my position coach, was very instrumental with that. It comes back to that trust factor though. If you can’t keep your quarterback clean and you can’t keep the ball off the ground, you aren’t gonna play. That was beat into our heads early on.
Nuances of Playing RB
ZH: Running back is the position that everybody claims to know everything about (mostly because of Fantasy Football). So, in your opinion, what is an underrated aspect of playing running back that people don’t talk enough about?
BK: I’d say vision. It is talked about, but I don’t think it is talked about enough. You have to have vision and know how you fit in your specific scheme. A lot of people are good at playing running back but they may not necessarily fit their scheme. Just finding out how you fit with what your team does can make everybody’s job easier.
ZH: One thing that I think is big with vision is the ability to set up defenders with your eyes to create space. Was that something that came naturally to you or something you had to pick up on?
BK: I caught on to it but it took a little bit of time. Once I got over that hump, I figured it out and got a good feel for it. It was all uphill from there though.
NOTHING could stop Brenden Knox— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) September 5, 2020
It’s Saturday and we have College Football highlights
ZH: I love the power you have on film. Do you take pride in being a bit of a bruiser type of running back?
BK: I consider myself a workhorse so whatever I need to do to accomplish the job, I’m going to get it done. I put myself in that workhorse type of category.
ZH: Do you get excited when you see a defensive back in the open field against you?
BK: Most definitely (laughs).
Brenden Knox hits the gap HARD, drops his shoulders to bounce off defenders efforts to tackle, and stumbles into the end zone for a solid 17-yard TD run! pic.twitter.com/FITcBE3fZ2— Andrew Harbaugh (@Mandrew_H) February 7, 2021
ZH: What is my team getting if they draft Brenden Knox?
BK: You are getting a real workhorse. Somebody who is good in every aspect of the game. I like to be reliable and produce when I get the ball. Just somebody who works hard and is a great guy off the field as well.
Brenden Knox (5'11/215/4.61 40 time) is a day three back I like. Not overly athletic but he's a good downhill rusher who can pass protect and catch the ball. Should be a nice add to a running back rotation.— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) March 30, 2021
Reminds me a lot of Spencer Ware (5'11"/223/4.62 40 time) pic.twitter.com/d4X6zP2epY
Brenden Knox is one of my favorite sleepers in this running back class. He may not be a freaky speedster like my other sleeper (Kene Nwangwu) but he is a complete back who is reliable in many phases. He reminds me a lot of Spencer Ware and what he was able to do for those Chiefs teams.
I don’t think the Colts are in the market for a running back in this class unless they end up trading Jordan Wilkins. We will have to see how it all unfolds but I think Knox churns out a solid NFL career.