The Wolfpacker

Sept./Oct. 2021

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 51

28 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER hen NC State sophomore r u n n i n g b a c k Z o n o va n Knight was a baby, his mother would put him in a playpen surrounded by toys. Apparently, Knight was fond of banging his toys in the pen. Thus is the origin of his nickname, "Bam." "As my uncle walked by, he said, 'That's all you hear, bam, bam, bam,'" Knight ex- plained. "So it kind of stuck after that. "It was actually Bam Bam, but over time I guess people dropped off that second Bam, so it's just been Bam." It was a family nickname at first for Knight, but when he started playing football in the fourth grade his teammates caught on. "I guess it's easier to pronounce than Zon- ovan, but I kind of like it," Knight admitted. "I like the feel." When it came time to post a highlight film for recruiters and evaluators on the video-hosting site Hudl, Knight, a stand- out at Southern Nash High in Bailey, N.C., identified himself using his nickname in quotations. He figures that's how it contin- ues to stick. That's certainly when NC State head man Dave Doeren and his coaching staff began to learn who Knight was. "He was a guy that could get to top speed quickly," Doeren said. "Their offense … was the wing T or double slot. He would get a lot of end arounds, put his foot in the ground, get north and south, and just outrun people. He had home-run speed." Convincing Knight to bring that athleti- cism to NC State was not easy or quick. Initially, he picked Duke in the spring of his junior year in high school. By the following summer, however, the talented rusher was having second thoughts. "He started to come sit on our campus with us, and we spent a lot of time together," Doeren remembered. "He came over here seven or eight times before he committed to us. He wanted to really see it. He wanted to see who we are as people. "He's not an outspoken person, but he's a very observant person. I think he came over here and spent seven or eight different times either with me or with [former NC State running backs coach] Coach [Des] Kitchings or with our strength coaches, and obviously with the academic staff." If Knight has the kind of year he hopes to enjoy, the entire country will get to know Bam from NC State. He feels good after missing out on spring practices while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Expectations are high after Knight was the leading vote-getter among running backs for the preseason All-ACC team. He entered 2021 with the top yards-per-carry average (5.49) in NC State history among runners with at least 200 carries. Knight was third-team All-ACC in 2020 after rushing 143 times for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns, and also returning a kickoff for a score. His production came while splitting the reps at running back with junior Ricky Person Jr. From Knight's perspective, his long-term future will benefit from having Person in the running back rotation. "Me and Ricky both kind of know the situation," Knight said. "You look at guys in the SEC, they're getting 30-40 carries a game. They'll essentially be burned out by the time they get ready for the next level be- cause of the wear and tear from all the hits. … We will essentially be fresh, or I guess you could say have tread on our tires by the time we get ready for the next level. "It's something I look at as an advantage, as far as looking at the next level." It helps that Knight's teammate in the backfield agrees with that assessment. "I feel like we all complement each other," Person said. "We take the load off one another. We don't want to get 30-40 carries a game. … That's how you burn yourself out, especially when you have plans to take that next step." Like many college football players, Knight's ambition is to be an NFL running Meet Bam NC State Sophomore Running Back Zonovan Knight Aims To Become One Of The Nation's Elite W Knight led the Wolfpack with 788 rushing yards last season and was a third-team All- ACC selection. PHOTO BY ETHAN HYMAN, THE NEWS & OBSERVER/ COURTESY ACC MEDIA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolfpacker - Sept./Oct. 2021