There is an extra degree of difficulty in the learning curve for Boise State sophomore tight end Jake Knight.
Knight transferred from Auburn last summer after a year on the Tigers’ track and field team as a thrower. He played just one season at tight end at Rocky Mountain High in 2013. Now, he’s trying to get into the rotation at a deep position, which also is one of the most difficult to grasp on the Broncos’ roster.
“I’m still learning everything, been a gradual process. The tight ends have a lot of responsibility, so it’s been a lot to take in,” Knight said.
It doesn’t take long to see why the Broncos were more than happy the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Meridian native wanted to return to football. Strong, big and athletic, it was all on display Saturday when the redshirt sophomore turned a short pass from junior quarterback Tommy Stuart into a 53-yard touchdown in Saturday’s scrimmage, breaking a pair of tackles on his way to the end zone.
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“Jake’s improving. He’s been good, but he’s still got a ways to go. Just understanding every little detail we’re trying to get done, but that’s a position that takes time,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Jake’s a guy I think can help us.”
Be it run blocking, pass blocking, running routes or being a vital part of the endless array of shifts and motions that make the Boise State offense unique, Knight has taken a crash course in Boise State Tight End 101.
“We’ve always kind of felt the tight end in our offense is about as hard of a position to master as there is,” co-offensive coordinator Scott Huff said. “It’s right there with the quarterback position, and in some regards, it’s probably harder physically. It’s mentally taxing.”
With a summer to digest all that has been thrown at him, Knight hopes to be involved in a group that will include juniors Jake Roh and Alec Dhaenens, sophomore Chase Blakley and redshirt freshman Matt Pistone.
“Jake and Alec have been great leaders, guys who really have helped me, and we should have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. So it’s exciting to be a part of it,” Knight said.
It was an unusual road for Knight to get to this point. He signed with Oregon State in February 2014, but tight ends coach Kyle DeVan and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf both left the Beavers. Knight won 5A state titles in the shot put and discus the following May. With his coaches gone and some strong track and field offers, he opted to leave football behind.
At Auburn, he took 10th in the shot put at the SEC Outdoor Championships last May. But the previous fall, watching football games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, he wondered what could have been.
“Watching those games, I realized I really missed it, and I missed home, too,” Knight said. “I love football. I love this city, couldn’t be happier.”
Back in Boise, Knight redshirted last season, per NCAA rules, and it was much needed.
“When you’re a thrower, you don’t have much conditioning, so that was a pretty big change, getting back into football shape. The redshirting was a big help,” Knight said.
As another weapon in the Boise State offensive arsenal, Knight has caught teammates’ eyes with his potential, especially knowing his grasp of the position improves each day.
“Jake Knight’s been doing really well. It’s been fun to see him play. He’s picking up the offense with each practice,” Sperbeck said. “... Tthat scrimmage was perfect, how he breaks tackles, scores a touchdown, it was amazing.”
See Knight’s touchdown in the spring scrimmage (just after 1:05 mark):
Boise State Spring Game information
▪ When: 5 p.m. Saturday, Albertsons Stadium
▪ Tickets: Tickets are $10 per person, available at Boise State athletic ticket office day of game or at BroncoSports.com/tickets; $5 tickets for fans who bring non-perishable canned food item to Idaho Foodbank (3562 S. TK Ave.) between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Parking: Complimentary parking available in stadium’s east lot and Lincoln Garage.
▪ Schedule: Bronco Walk scheduled for 3 p.m. from Caven-Williams Indoor Sports Complex around south side of stadium; gates open at 4 p.m.; pre-game ceremony to honor Lyle Smith, who turned 100 on March 17.