Nigel Knott heard the same thing over and over last week in Oregon.
“Every single day I was at The Opening, people committed to different schools came up to me asking me to do a back flip,” the Germantown defensive back said. “I think 10 different people asked me to do it.”
Since a video of the four-star cornerback doing a back flip off the side of a house all while catching a football went viral more than a month ago, Knott’s notoriety as one of the country’s most compelling athletes has skyrocketed.
But it’s how that freakish athleticism translates to the gridiron that puts Knott in a class of elite high school football players in Mississippi and helped him earn a Dandy Dozen nod.
Stat breakdown: 112 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 4 interceptions for 106 yards, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked punt and 1 blocked field goal as a junior.
Rankings: Four-star by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. Ranked No. 2 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Targeted 22.
What makes him a Dandy: In college, Knott projects as a cornerback because of his length, speed and athleticism to shut down an opponent in different schemes. At Germantown, Knott plays safety and has earned his reputation as an elite defensive back with tremendous upside. He’s emerged over the last year as a dynamic skill player with twitchy hips that gives him the versatility to turn and run with deep routes or break laterally on under thrown balls. Speed is Knott’s weapon of choice and his ability to change direction seamlessly allows him to recover well in coverage. The four-star prospect also recorded the field’s fastest time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Nike Football’s The Opening. Knott is given the freedom to line up where he wants in the defensive backfield and is a master at disguising coverages. “It lets (our safeties) have a little fun,” Germantown coach Tim Shramek said. “Sometimes it drives me nuts. I’ll look out there expecting them to be in Cover 2 and it looks like they’re in Cover 3. But then the ball’s snapped and they’re back in Cover 2.”
Where he’s going: Knott released a top 10 list earlier this summer that includes Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Oregon. The four-star prospect said he’s in the process of setting up visits to Oregon, Alabama, Florida State and USC and would like to commit after he takes all five of his officials. Knott’s father, David, was a safety for the Rebels in the 90s, but don’t expect the corner to commit somewhere based on a bloodline. Knott’s offers extend from coast to coast and finding the best fit, whether in Mississippi or out of state, is his priority.
Best time to catch him this fall: Sept. 9 vs. Clinton. While Knott said he’s always wanted to play Oxford, Germantown won’t get the chance to do so until the playoffs. The Mavericks regular season meeting against the Arrows, however, has the defensive back eager to show off his athleticism against four-star athletes Cam Akers and Kam’Ron White.
What they said: “We knew he always had the ability. I think his maturity was no so much physical but his mental maturity,” Shramek said. “Not everybody knows if they want to work that hard to get where they want. He just matured over the years and one day it clicked with him that ‘I’m going to be that guy.'”
Worth noting: The video of Knott’s back flip catch after running up the wall of a house was picked up by over 15 media outlets in more than three different languages.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or ccronin @ jackson.gannett.com . Follow @ CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.