Former Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight is living a dream with Arizona Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. — If nothing else, Trevor Knight looks the part of an NFL quarterback.
At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, he has arm strength to spare along with athleticism and excellent speed for the position.
The question now, as he begins rookie camp with the Arizona Cardinals, is if he can grow into the job.
If it is to happen, the process began Friday.
“Living a dream out here,” he said after his first NFL practice. “First day’s a little chaotic, trying to put in a new offense after only being here 24 hours.
“But the coaches understand; they understand it’s not going to be perfect. They just want to see how react to it, how you handle the stress and how you make one mistake, but don’t make it again.”
That Knight is in Arizona working with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and the rest of the staff is no accident. An undrafted rookie free agent pickup, he said he and his agent felt Arizona offered the best opportunity for him.
“After the conversations I had with Coach Arians and Coach (Byron) Leftwich and everybody else on the staff, I just felt comfortable,” he said. “Like my future was best here in Arizona.”
As an undrafted rookie free agent pickup rather than a player in camp on a tryout, Knight figures to have more than just this weekend to show the coaches what he is made of.
In some ways, he did not always get that chance in college.
A four-star prospect coming out of high school as a dual-threat quarterback, he began his career at Oklahoma by redshirting in 2012, and in 2013 was named the team’s starting quarterback. He started five games and played in eight overall, completing 79-of-134 passes for 819 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions that season while also running for two scores.
His highlight was a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama in which he completed 32-of-44 passes for 348 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. That effort really put him on the map, and it caught the attention of Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.
Knight started 10 games the following season, completing 56.6 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards and 14 touchdowns with 12 picks. He added five touchdowns on the ground, but lost his grasp on the starting job the following season and chose to transfer after graduating.
He landed at Texas A&M, where in 11 games he completed 53.3 percent of his passes for 2,432 yards and 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He added another 10 scores as a runner, but suffered a shoulder injury late in the season and after winning seven of their first eight games to start the season, the Aggies struggled in his absence, ultimately finishing 8-5.
Arians was impressed with Knight on Friday, saying he showed good grasp of the offense and threw the ball well.
“He had a rough, sore shoulder almost all season, and his arm is healthy,” the coach said Friday. “He threw one about 55 yards down there today.
“But the athleticism he brings with the position, he showed already today.”
That athleticism — at the NFL Scouting Combine he ran a 4.54 second 40-yard dash, which was the fastest among QBs in Indianapolis, and was also the top performer among passers on both the vertical and broad jumps — has some thinking that his future may not be at quarterback.
Knight, however, said he is confident he can play QB in the NFL, and though his college career featured its share of ups and downs, his final season in College Station convinced him he can play the position at a high level.
The concept of switching to a new position is not something he has thought about, and the confidence Arians has shown in him makes him feel good about his prospects under center.
“Obviously I didn’t get drafted, but just the way that he approached me coming into camp and even moving forward after that, he feels really confident in my skill level, and that made me feel good,” Knight said.
In terms of where he needs to improve, Knight said the key is being more consistent. He is excited to learn from the team’s veteran passers, like starter Carson Palmer, and is not particularly worried about the number of quarterbacks who are currently with the team.
Including Knight and Antonio Pipkin, who is also in rookie camp (but on a tryout basis), the Cardinals have six quarterbacks in the fold. Knight said he cannot spend time looking over his shoulder, and instead will work hard, be a good teammate, learn and do the best he can.
This weekend, with only rookies on the field, he has a chance to prove the team should keep him around.
“They throw a lot at you and you’ve got to make it stick; it’s not what sticks, it’s you’ve got to make all of it stick, and then just go make plays,” Knight said of his first weekend in the NFL. “But he (Arians) stressed in our team meeting when we first got here, it’s still just football — don’t make it any bigger than it is.
“It’s the next step up, it’s the highest level of football, but don’t stress out about that. Just do what you do, do what you know, and go do a good job with it.”