Tylan Knight adapting quickly to full-time receiver role

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tylan Knight came to Ole Miss as a running back and defensive back. An All-State selection at Pearl High School, he was a critical component of the 16-0 team that won the 6A State Championship in 2017. Now, Tylan Knight is a full-time wide receiver.

Knight played some at the position in high school – he caught 13 passes for 154 yards as a senior. But, he’s never been thrust into the position where receiving is his main focus.

“I’m really enjoying (the change),” Knight said. “It’s different from what I played in high school. I didn’t really play it as like a starting position, but I’m getting used to it.”

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The change had a lot to do with the basic number of good running backs the Rebels have on roster. At the same time, it fits what Knight does really well. At 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds, Knight is dangerous with his speed and quick change of direction hits.

The new receiving role takes advantage of what he does best. The goal is simply to get him the ball with grass in front of him where he can be at his most dangerous.

“You see guys like Tylan, who played running back in the past, are really good with the ball in their hands,” said wide receivers coach Jacob Peeler. “We have some options there. These jitterbug guys, we just need to get the ball to them going different ways and let them do what they do best.”

Knight said the hardest thing to learn is reading coverages on the fly. It’s something that’s learned both from watching film and getting out there on the field and seeing it develop in front of you. He’s not watching film on others to see what his role will be as much as he is just learning from Elijah Moore, the guy that’s played that slot role before and will continue to.

Peeler said Ole Miss hopes to play seven to nine receivers during a game. Knight is without a doubt the No. 2 in the slot. He’ll come on the field when Moore needs a break in three-receiver sets, and he’s also played several times beside and across from Moore in four-receiver sets.

“It’s very dangerous (when we’re out there together). It’ll be very dangerous for the opposing team,” Knight said. “We have different sets. So sometimes it’s three-by-one and sometimes it’s two-by-two.”

And Knight’s background and Rich Rodriguez’s propensity to put defenses in a bind, it wouldn’t be remotely surprising to see Knight motioned back into that tailback spot a handful of times a game.

He appeared in all 12 games a year ago as a true freshman. In all those games he was a running back or defensive back, not a receiver. Now he’s a running back, and he’s also the guy gunning down punts in special teams. For all we know, Tylan Knight could be even more than is let on.  

Nathanael Gabler covers Ole Miss and high school sports for the Oxford Eagle. You can reach him at nathanael.gabler@oxfordeagle.com with news tips, suggestions or comments. Follow @ngabler4 on Twitter.