COLUMN: A versatile defensive back who is just starting to realize his potential as a player and another every-down running back who can fit into almost any formation are what Ole Miss picked up with verbal pledges Quintavious Knight and Akeem Judd. The Georgia Military College standouts, who were courted by a bevy of colleges, chose the Rebels earlier this month.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Judd, a running back, was the first to pick Ole Miss, while the 6-foot, 175-pound Knight, a cornerback, followed suit a week ago.
Knight, who had seven interceptions last year as a freshman, gives the Rebels a tall, rangy athlete who can match up with taller wide receivers as well as a quick and agile player who can also cover the fastest of pass catchers in the Southeastern Conference.
“He has all the tools at his disposal that you would want in an SEC corner. He’s got really good speed, good length and body size to match up with the rash of 6-4, 6-5 receivers that are out there nowadays. He’s got good ball skills, good instincts,” Georgia Military head coach Bert Williams said. “Probably the biggest thing that helps him get better and better is from a fundamental standpoint, he’s relied on his skills a lot.
“The technique and positioning are things he works on all the time since he came to us with (defensive coordinator) Coach (Rob) Manchester,” Williams added. “His upside is just refining the tools that he has because he’s only going to get better and better because as he learn how to use that great skill with precision, it’s going to be interesting to see how good he can be. We expect him to do very well there at Ole Miss.”
Knight didn’t play his senior year at Grady High in Ellenwood, Ga due to a year-long suspension. Williams recruited Knight off his junior film and agreed he was an under-the-radar prospect because of that.
“We could see his skill set from the film we did have on him. I’m not sure how serious he took his craft until he got here and we got his eyes open. He saw the level of play and the young people we had on the field and he saw what he was capable of and he competed against it. He began to understand what he had to do take advantage of his skills. That opened doors to take advantage of opportunities such as Ole Miss,” Williams said. “He had a little bit of a struggle his first quarter (in school). We encourage all of our signees to come in the summer so they can get acclimated to summer work as well as the level of intensity and the work required when you take that jump from high school to college. He was unable to do that so he kind of got hit with everything in one fell swoop of coming into camp. You get three weeks and they you’re playing your first game. And then starting up with college courses after that and on the road a bunch during the season and he struggled a bit.”
Things were different in the spring for Knight, according to Williams, and that’s why so many schools, such as West Virginia, Arizona and Texas Tech, offered him a scholarship.
“We had a couple of good conversations at the end of the term and he really has done a good job of doing what he needs to do in the offseason of getting himself stronger and picking up his job in the weight room and gaining body mass so he can physically deal with those bigger guys as well as hone his skills,” Williams said. “He really did a good job of that in the spring and I think people started seeing that. They saw the good job he had done in the spring and I think that’s when people started getting serious and offers started coming and all that. I think a lot of it was self realization. He had to make that realization.”
According to 24-7 Sports, the Rebels landed the nation’s top-ranked junior college running back in Judd. Williams said Judd, who emerged the last half of 2012, should be in that discussion.
“I certainly think he’s capable of being ranked there. I heard about that and saw all the reports about that. He’s a guy that really came on the second half of the season. We had a young man who is at West Virginia, Mario Alford, who was kind of our big-play guy. He got banged up and that’s when Akeem got to shoulder a bigger part of the load. It was a deal where we could count on him, we just had to keep feeding him more and more and more,” Williams said. “I think Akeem is really and every-down back. He’s a guy that is physical enough to run the running downs if there is such a thing anymore. He can pound if you need him to. He’s got great shiftiness in traffic. He works to the hole and he’s great in a zone scheme. He’s got good, long speed for his size. He’s a thick, strong back. He’s not a 240-pound guy but he can be a 220-, 225-pound guy and still have good long speed. He’s also got good ball skills.
“There were times where we would put him at slot some and we felt like we weren’t giving up a lot to go to those four wide sets with him without doing a personnel change. I really think he can play every down for Ole Miss and be very effective in what they want to do.”
Williams has seen Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze’s offense enough to know that Judd could be in a lot of the formations.
“I’m not extremely familiar with what they do but I have seen them a little bit and what (Freeze) has done in the past and I feel like he can do all the different flavors of offense out there. We run a ton of power, counter and Iso here and he does a great job with that,” Williams said. “We also do a lot of one-back scheme, zone scheme, the quick traps, speed sweeps and hitting the outside on the motions and all of that. He is very good in all of that as well. He is a guy that is not very limited from the running back position. He can help you in all phases.”
This fall Judd, who rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns last year, will be paired up with former Auburn signee, Jovon Robinson, a Memphis native who was recruited by Ole Miss out of Wooddale High. With Judd out with an injury, Robinson stepped up and rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries in the spring game.
“We’ve got a blessing in that Jovon Robinson is on our team and he was with us in the spring. He had an excellent spring and you talk about a 1-2 punch with those two guys in the backfield,” Williams said. “That’s something fun to have. We feel really good about what those two can do.” (June 24, 2013, Page 2B)