With so many returning players on the 2021 UCLA football roster, veteran leadership should not be lacking. But the who, what, where, and when of leadership can still be questions. As far as the defensive backfield goes, there are a lot of options. But as Qwuantrezz Knight talks UCLA football with his trademark enthusiasm, you just know he has to be one of the go-to guys for leadership.
Qwuantrezz Knight Talks UCLA Football
Everyone is back in UCLA’s secondary. Stephan Blaylock is going into his fourth season having played in every game since he has been on campus. He says one of his priorities for Spring camp was, “Helping out the guys around the team just so we could be more connected to one another, while we’re out there.” Blaylock said recently.
Quentin Lake missed some of camp with a minor undisclosed injury. He also missed some of 2019 with injuries. But when he is healthy, as he says he will be this Fall, he is a head honcho back there. He has been on the field since early in his freshman year in 2017. His dad, Carnell, has legend status at UCLA and was a perennial all-pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Not to be cocky or overly confident, but I do think I’m a leader,” Lake said. He acknowledges he is more a leader by example. “Am I vocal guy? No. Because that is not really how I lead. But I lead through my actions.”
Knight To Be Heard From
Who is the vocal leader back there then? Without fail, ever player, every coach, and everyone who has spent five minutes at practice will tell you it is Knight. The sixth-year player has filled the relatively new role of striker in the UCLA defense, being a hybrid defensive back/linebacker. He is not difficult to spot at practice. Look for the guy in the white practice jersey giving verbal instructions on the field and loudly pumping up teammates when he is on the sidelines.
Knight spent 2016-2018 at the University of Maryland. He played in 27 games over his three years there, recording a then-career high six tackles against Michigan.
He transferred to Kent State for the 2019 season and the key player in him came out. Knight was fourth on the team with 74 total tackles, including 10 for loss. His breakout game was against Arizona State with 10 tackles. He had one more year of eligibility as a grad transfer and came west. After enrolling at UCLA last Summer, during the height of the pandemic, he worked through the stops and starts of the Pac-12. Knight played in all seven UCLA games last season, finishing third on the team in tackles with 40. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery at Oregon.
Knight As A Leader
He, along with the other three grad transfers from 2020, all decided to take advantage of the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility based on COVID issues in 2020. The return of a guy who has been producing on the field since he first started college ball is invaluable.
He has also been all about UCLA from the moment he stepped on campus. Looking for a vocal leader? He’s your guy. Want a guy to help you recruit by openly promoting the football program on digital media? He’s is there. Need someone to promote other athletic programs at your school. Look no further.
Secondary coach Brian Norwood said Knight is like another coach on the field. “He’s very passionate about his teammates,” Norwood said earlier this month. “He’s the one guy that is going a hundred miles an hour from effort, communication, encouragement, and building guys up.”
Knight talked about his role as a leader. “I just want to teach the younger guys everything they need to know, things that I wasn’t taught as a younger guy from my older teammates.” He said there is more to it than just the schemes on the field. “We really, really want to make this program a player-led program, rather than the coaches being on the players, trying to get them going,” Knight said. “I feel like that’s our job to do that. Once we fully understand that the sky’s the limit.” He said he takes his role seriously trying to be a coach and not just a student of the game.
That’s not to say his own learning curve on the field is over. “I feel like just understand the defense and where every guy fits within the scheme. And I understand what the situations the coaches are trying to put us in. I like I have made strides in terms of being a better student of the game,” Knight said. “Every day I’m in the film room. Every day I’m asking the coaches about what I can do more. Just taking the mental steps is something I think I did very well this Spring.”
Knight Is All In On All Things Bruins
Follow Knight on social media and you get the digital side of the vocal Knight as a player, a coach, and an honor roll student.
Younger teammate asked me today Q how do you come in and be the same person everyday no matter what? I told him because of you , I know you are counting on me! I won’t fail you 💯
— Qwuantrezz Knight (@qknight4) May 10, 2021
It is rarely just about him. Few players have shown they are more sold on UCLA athletics overall than Knight. He is frequently posting motivational tweets about women’s basketball, men’s basketball, women’s soccer and other UCLA sports.
Let’s go kill it ! 🗣 https://t.co/AdjSOV6RjN
— Qwuantrezz Knight (@qknight4) April 13, 2021
If the leadership and the play come together for Knight, and for the entire secondary, big things will be expected of UCLA this season.
Main image of Qwuantrezz Knight courtesy Full Image 360 Photography