Alabama lost defensive back Cyrus Jones to graduation this offseason, but the Crimson Tide may have their next playmaker that can play both offense and defense in Nigel Knott.
The four-star cornerback from Germantown (Miss.) High School signed with Alabama on National Signing Day. Knott, who is one of the most-gifted athletes in the 2016 class, said Nick Saban has discussed the possibility of playing offense, defense and special teams, which Jones did while at Alabama.
“I know Saban at one point mentioned wide receiver and cornerback to me. I’m definitely interested in that,” Knott told SEC Country. “He also talked to me about punt and kick returner. I prefer to play everything because I love contributing to the game. If I had one choice, it would be cornerback and then special teams.”
Knott’s athleticism was on full display in two highlight videos that went viral. In the first one, Knott ran up a brick wall before doing a backflip and catching a football. In the second, Knott showed off his ridiculous vertical leap in a video he captioned, ‘messing around at school.’
The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder signed with Alabama because of the program’s history and ability to groom NFL players.
“I guess you could say their record of winning all of the time,” Knott said. “They did it this past year and they are going to continue doing it. I felt comfortable with the class coming in with me. I knew everybody.”
The following is a question-and-answer session conducted with Knott in the third edition of our Alabama recruiting rewind series.
You’ll learn why he chose Alabama over his father’s alma mater, Ole Miss, and why that school disappointed him. You’ll also find out which program finished in second, and a time when he was about to commit to a school not called Alabama.
1. If you could give a junior only one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be?
“Keep your recruiting process within your family. Don’t spread it out to the world. Everyone has their own opinions and if you listen to everyone, then you won’t make your own.”
2. What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
“It was a tie between Mississippi State and Oregon. All three schools are great. I just wanted to be at Alabama.”
3. Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
“It would be Ole Miss. Here’s where really everything started to change for me: My first offer was Mississippi State. The first school I went to was Mississippi State, and I got an offer from them. The second school I went to was Southern Mississippi, and I got an offer on that trip. The third school I went to was Ole Miss, and they didn’t offer me. I just felt so bad because my dad went there and I didn’t get an offer from them and the other two schools gave me one. Ever since that point, it still stuck out to me. I think Ole Miss was like the eighth school to offer me. It really wasn’t until the end of the process that I started getting a better relationship with Ole Miss.”
4. What was that conversation like with your dad after not getting an offer?
“He was basically like, ‘they just want to make sure on you before they take risks on in-state kids.’ He was just like they are going to get back to you after they review your film.” (His father, David, played safety for Ole Miss in the 1990s.)
5. What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process?
“I was about to commit, but then I changed the date twice. The first time I was going to commit to Florida State, but then my parents just felt that I needed to wait it out and weigh all of my options to see what was going on. This was on my way home from a Florida State camp back in June.
“The second time I was going to commit to Alabama. I think that was going to be at my Under Armour All-American jersey ceremony, but I changed the date again.”
6. So is your dad now going to be an Alabama fan?
“He’s going to be chilling in his house with an Alabama jersey on now,” he laughed. “(Ole Miss) is his school, so when they aren’t playing us, he can still cheer for them.”
7. What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
“I guess it would be not being more open with my family throughout that process. They really needed me to be more open because they have helped me so much. I wish I would have been more open with the people that I needed to be open with.”
Other Alabama recruiting rewinds:
- Jared Mayden says some coaches called Nick Saban ‘Nick Satan’
- Quinnen Williams on why he signed with Alabama over his childhood dream school, Auburn
8. What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
“It was the Alabama official visit. We were at Saban’s house and something happened. We were on the trail and someone had wrecked some golf carts. (Note: five-star linebacker signees Ben Davis and Lyndell “Mack” Wilson were the guilty ones. You can read about that story here.)
9. Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
“(Mississippi State coach) Dan Mullen because I really liked their program. They were the first to offer me and had been recruiting me the longest. He was still recruiting me even after I had committed to Alabama. I really respect Mullen.”
10. What happened at the last minute with Mississippi State? I know they contacted you on signing day.
“They did. It wasn’t like a pushy conversation at all, though. I made phone calls to the schools I wasn’t going to that morning. Mississippi State was just telling me that I could wait to make a decision and there wasn’t any pressure at all.”
— Nigel Knott© (@nigelk09) February 3, 2016
11. How much negative recruiting was out there?
“A lot of coaches were just telling me don’t be just another guy at Alabama, come be the guy. More people were just telling me that I won’t play at Alabama. People still tell me that today.”
12. What’s the one thing you are most looking forward to at Alabama?
“Just getting to that university and getting coached by a lot of great guys. I can’t wait to get there.”
All ratings and rankings are from the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.