By Jose Romero / The Alliance
GLENDALE, AZ — Quarterbacks playing special teams are a rare occurrence in football.
But Saturday night in Memphis, in the first quarter of the Arizona Hotshots’ game against the Express, there was Hotshots quarterback Trevor Knight — the team’s first pick in The Alliance of American Football’s “Pick or Protect” Quarterback Draft in November — lined up on the right side of the punt return team.
He would take the field for two more pints later in the game, and said he’s been deployed on special teams in each of the season’s first two games.
“Having a blast with it,” Knight said at practice Wednesday. “It’s one of my roles now on the team. I take it really seriously and it’s a whole lot of fun.”
Knight himself came up with the idea to play special teams. It may be a decision most would find difficult to understand — after all, he is the backup to starter John Wolford and thus a play away from taking over under center. But Knight, despite never playing on special teams at any level of football before this season, wanted badly to contribute to the team on the field.
“As a competitor, you want to contribute any way that you can, but also as a teammate. You want to do what’s best for the team,” Knight said. “And if you’re the best guy at a certain position, wherever that is on the field, if it’s punter, kicker, quarterback, right guard, defensive tackle, wherever it is, if you’re the best player out there and you’re going to contribute to the team, you need to be out there.”
Knight has a good relationship with Hotshots special teams coach Chris Reinert, and that led to him joining the punt team. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and possessing plenty of athleticism and speed, Knight is big and fast enough to take any pounding on the edge. … or deliver it.
“I get physical running with the (opposing) guy running down the field and hopefully set up a return for our return guys,” Knight said.
Hotshots head coach Rick Neuheisel appreciates Knight’s attitude.
“He is a guy that wants to do whatever it takes,” Neuheisel said. “We’re going to keep finding roles for him as well as develop him as a backup quarterback. I want Trevor to participate in every game.”
The Hotshots drafted well at quarterback, landing Knight and then Wolford with their first two picks. Wolford, after winning the competition to be the Hotshots starter in training camp, has guided a quick-strike offense to 58 combined points in two wins.
Knight, who threw for 44 touchdowns and nearly 6,000 yards in college at Oklahoma and Texas A&M, would undoubtedly prefer to be the guy at quarterback. But he’s happy for Wolford and made sure to encourage his teammate during a rough first half last Saturday at Memphis.
“The way he prepares and his knowledge of the game, and his commitment to each and every guy on this team has been fun to watch,” Knight said.
Knight said he’s prepared if asked to go in at quarterback. He’s maintained the high energy he brought to the team’s December minicamp despite what transpired at his position in January.
“Always a play away,” Knight said. “I know what it’s like to not only be a good starter and playmaker but also a good teammate, as well. When it is my time, if it ever is my time that I need to go in there and make plays, I think I’ll be ready of it.”he right side of the punt return team.
He would take the field for two more punts later in the game, and said he’s been deployed on special teams in each of the season’s first two games.