If his first touch as a member of the NC State Football team is any indication of what’s to come, then there’s a lot to like on the horizon for Bam Knight. With under nine minutes to play in the first quarter of NC State’s 2019 opener against East Carolina, Zonovan “Bam” Knight wasted no time reintroducing himself to the Wolfpack faithful.
On a gorgeous zone read play from Matt McKay, Knight (6-0, 200 pounds) burst through the middle for a nine-yard touchdown run. That opened the scoring for NC State in 2019; it could also be a sign what’s ahead for Knight.
This is the player NC State hoped to see again after his brilliant spring game performance — 139 yards rushing — back in April. That took time, though. Knight had his struggles in the offseason, which frustrated the coaching staff. Dave Doeren thought perhaps some of the springtime press clippings (are press clippings still a thing?) go to Knight’s head.
Regardless, it’s a different world now. So far, the competition hasn’t been great, and the sample is small; however, Knight, a former 4-star prospect, is off to an electric start.
Ready to roll
An in-state recruit, Knight didn’t have to travel too far to get to Raleigh; he played his prep football at Southern Nash (HS) in Bailey, the same high school that Julius Peppers attended back in the day. Now that he’s at NC State, though, Doeren and his staff hope Knight covers a lot of ground.
1. Took care of business.
2. Defense is a huge strength. No missed tackles or explosive plays given up.
3. Bam Knight is a problem for other teams.
4. Downfield passing attack and 3rd downs are concerning. Must get better
5. Beat WVU.
— Josh Goodson (@joshwgoodson) September 8, 2019
Through the first two games of the season, Knight has carried the ball a team-high 27 times. That’s translated into 161 yards (5.96 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Knight is currently tied with Travis Etienne, AJ Dillon and Cam Akers — three future NFL running backs — for most rushing touchdowns in the ACC.
Knight also ranks 10th in the conference in yards per carry, too. His freshman teammate, Jordan Houston, ranks fifth — with 7.7 yards per carry. (Ricky Person Jr. isn’t far behind, either: 4.7 yards per carry.)
Climbing over the Catamounts
In the blowout home win over Western Carolina, Knight carried the ball 18 times for 119 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Going back over the course of the last 20 seasons, Knight became just the 11th Wolfpack player to rush for 115 yards yards and two scores in the same game.
On one possession of that game, late in the first half, NC State covered 62 yards in less than 2.5 minutes. Of the six plays on that drive, the final five were all carries by Knight. He punctuated things with a two-yard touchdown plunge.
After that performance, Knight, Akers and Etienne are the only three running backs in the ACC averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry (minimum 25 carries) and two or more rushing scores.
A pack at the running back position
NC State has three straight seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher; that could easily be four, too, if not for a toe injury to Matt Dayes in the 2015 season. After injuries causes Person to miss four games last season, NC State has played things a little conservatively with him this season, so far.
With Knight coming on strong, though, along with Houston, NC State has an interesting trio in the backfield — two freshmen and a sophomore. Factor in Trent Pennix, a redshirt sophomore, and NC State clearly has some interesting, young depth in the backfield. Of that group, Knight — for the moment, at least — is The Guy.
As the competition picks up, keep an eye on Knight, who could be a star in the making for NC State.