Knox Ready to Step into New Role
Aug. 7, 2017
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
He is tasked with replacing four-year starter Evan Engram, Ole Miss' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end.
"Nobody can replace Evan Engram," Knox said. "He was a special player, but it is humbling to be able to try to fill his shoes this year. He was a great mentor and a great friend. He did some great things last year, and I am excited to go out there and be able to try to do some of those things."
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound sophomore brings is certainly up to the task physically.
"Dawson has really impressed me with his physicality," head coach Matt Luke said. "He's really been throwing it up in there with no brakes."
Knox's large frame is beneficial to serving as a blocker as part of the Rebels' exterior offensive line, something that he says he has put an emphasis on in fall camp.
"One of the biggest things I am working on right now is really blocking," Knox said. "I have been used to some of the route running and catching. That is my strong suit right now. But my focus this camp has been on the blocking game, getting low under people's pads and moving them off of the ball."
Along with his size, Knox also brings a unique skill set of his own that should help fill the void in Phil Longo's offense that relies on tight ends in a way that is similar to last year.
"Dawson is a very athletic guy that can create some mismatches so I am hoping it will be similar," Luke said. "I hope we can use that guy as a blocker and be very physical, maybe put him on the ball and iso(late) some linebackers. Be a little more versatile."
Knox joined the team in 2015 as a walk-on and played some on special teams a year ago. He has impressed the coaching staff throughout the spring and into fall camp with his hands and athleticism. He played quarterback in high school, and won a slam dunk contest in basketball.
Knox and Engram were good friends and he says the biggest thing he learned from Engram didn't have as much to do with technique, but rather the mindset he brings each day.
"It is just coming out with a mindset every day that you are not number one," Knox said. "You are fighting for that spot so you can really better yourself each day. I feel like the moment I start getting content with it is when I will start slipping up."
Ole Miss will the luxury of depth at tight end this season. Luke cited Ty Quick, Jason Pellerin and redshirt freshman Gabe Angel, who caught Luke's eye early on, but has been hampered by a finger injury recently.
"We are probably deeper there than we were last year and won't be as top heavy," Luke said. "But obviously big shoes to fill with Evan leaving."
Coinciding with Knox and the tight ends, Luke said he was pleased with the receiving corps as well as the secondary, and the competition between the two groups in camp.
"They're playing really well. They made some plays in the red zone today. I think they are making the DB's better," Luke said. "I love seeing that back-and-forth competition.
The team put on full pads for the first time Monday and plowed through a two-hour practice before a mandatory day off on Tuesday.
"I have been pleased," Luke said. "We have been taking it one day at a time. The effort and energy of the staff and players has been good. They are flying around with a ton of energy."
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