ST. PETERSBURG – Linebacker Tah’shim Knight is a core piece to the Northside Christian defense. The rising senior wants to become a complete leader for the Mustangs as they look to make a deep postseason run this season.
Knight, a 5’11”, 215-pounder has put on 25 lbs. since the end of 2015. After recording 55 tackles (11 for a loss), six sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season, he’s aiming to reach the 100-tackle mark.
Knight feels confident with the core of group of guys returning after posting an 8-2 record a season ago which ended in the 2A region semifinal against state runner-up Cambridge Christian.
“We had a good season, but we didn’t hit the pinnacle that we wanted to. We had high aspirations of making it to states,” Knight said. “As far as the season, we got better in terms of chemistry. There was a lot of adversity behind the scenes that not many people know about.”
Knight plays for fifth-year head coach Mike Alstott. Yeah, the same Mike Alstott who spent 11 seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-06). Knight said at first he was in awe of having a former NFL star as his coach, but after being around him for a while, he looks at him as just a regular person who has done it before.
“Coach Mike [Alstott] is more of a dad. He’s our team dad and a life coach. Even though he played in the NFL, he teaches us more man lessons then he would on the field stuff.”
..He gives us that extra edge because when we do need that football side, he’s the one who has been there before. Just having him as our head coach it is humbling. Not many kids get a coach like him.”
Knight credits both Alstott and defensive coordinator Jeremy Campbell, a former Clemson linebacker for his progress this past season. In his second full varsity season, Knight says the mental part of the game has come to him in terms of understanding the ins-and-outs of football and taking proper angles.
Prior to high school Knight never played linebacker dating back to his start at age 4. He played quarterback, running back, defensive line, offensive line and fullback but never linebacker. He says making the switch his freshman year was something that was easy to pick up on the fly.
When did Knight gain his confidence?
He says that came during his freshman season as the lone ninth grader on the team.
“When I saw our freshman class I was like “we really got this.” In the game against Bishop McLaughlin, it was the first win for coach Mike after a 0-10 record the year before. I came onto the field and had a big hit.”
In the Mustangs’ 3-4 scheme, Knight gets plenty of chances to rush the passer which is evident by his eight sacks and 15 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons. He says his biggest strengths are reading offenses and blitzing.
He loves being a playmaker and says the defense feeds off each other’s energy. Over the last two seasons, Knight has five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
“We all pride ourselves on that. We feed off each other. Once I get going, the whole team gets going. “
On top of his dedication to Northside Christian football, Knight also plays 7-on-7 ball with coach BJ Hall and Team Florida. He calls Hall (a former CFL player), a wonderful guy and someone he is very close with.
“It’s been cool. I like it because everybody in high school they might just play for fun, but when you go out there everyone is competitive.”
Right now, Knight has 10 offers on his plate including the latest one from South Dakota last Tuesday.
His offers are as follows: South Dakota, Mercer, South Dakota State, UNC Charlotte, Charleston Southern, Liberty, Eastern Kentucky, Akron, Western Illinois, Florida A&M.
Knight also has interest from Kentucky, Connecticut, Florida Atlantic, Central Florida, Old Dominion, North Carolina.
He says he feels blessed to have offers. He’s planning visits to Akron and Liberty later this summer.
Knight’s biggest role models are God and his mother.
“My mother is so strong. She’s raised me since I was 5. She’s always had a big heart and is very humble.”
In terms of big picture, Knight says he would love to play in the NFL if he could, but he just wants to go to college and compete.
He’s looking to study engineering, either architectural or structural or construction management. Knight knows he wants to start a business whether it is with his degree or to start something like IMG that he can make his own dynasty.
Bright, determined and confident. Those are three great words that describe who Tah’shim Knight is. On the field, he is a dynamic playmaker and off the field, he’s someone who likes to laugh hard at a ridiculous comedy.
Go watch a Northside Christian game this season. I promise you that you’ll see Knight making plays for his defense and getting them amped up.
Favorite player to watch – NFL (Karl Joseph, DeMarcus Ware, Ray Lewis, Von Miller) College (Denzel Conyers, Rayshawn Jenkins)
Playlist before games – Kodak Black, Chief Keef, Project Youngin
Favorite movies – The Scary Movie series, The Dictator
Favorite TV show – ESPN, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “I can draw. I like art. I draw cartoons and graffiti. My favorite character to draw is Bugs Bunny.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Sweet Tea”, “Shim”
Game film: Knight’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Team Florida
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.