Temple's Knighton hungry for NFL

Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (92) is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds.
Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (92) is expected to be drafted in the middle rounds.
Posted: April 23, 2009

If food is your thing, Terrance Knighton insists the place to be this weekend is his grandmother's house in Connecticut. That's where Temple's 6-3 senior defensive tackle plans to hang out, along with his "mom, brothers, aunt and girlfriend," as they watch the NFL draft together to finally find out where his immediate future is headed.

"She'll [cook] everything in the fridge, Saturday and Sunday," Knighton predicted, no doubt from repeated experiences.

So, it'll pretty much be like having Thanksgiving squared?

"Yeah," he said, smiling. "For 2 straight days."

How much Knighton - who's weighing in at 320 pounds these days - actually consumes might depend on how long it takes to hear his name called. He's projected as a fourth-round pick. So most likely, he won't get taken until the second day.

"Saturday, I'll just be sitting around hoping every other d-tackle goes early," Knighton explained. "Sunday, I'll probably wake up sweating.

"There's always a big need for [that position]. There are a lot coming out this year. If everybody gets called in the first round, maybe I'll move up."

Earlier this week in the Daily News, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock listed Knighton as his "sleeper" at DT.

"I kind of let other people tell me about stuff like that," the soft-spoken Knighton admitted. "I don't really go on the Internet. That's another thing I learned from coach [Al] Golden. He told me, 'Don't worry about what people say.' Just let the process handle itself. And that's basically what I've been doing.

"My mom calls, or my brother. They'll say, 'We saw this.' And they're excited. Personally, I'm a laid-back type of guy. My mom, my aunt and my grandmother, they'll be crying all over the place. I'll just feel like all my hard work has paid off. Now I get to support myself and my family, doing something I love. A lot of people don't get to make a lot of money doing something they love.

"The fact that I'm going to be playing football, that's my job, is a great thing."

There are five former Owls in the pros: defensive lineman Raheem Brock (Indianapolis); defensive tackle Dan Klecko (Eagles), defensive tackle Antwon Burton (St. Louis), fullback Jason McKie (Chicago) and linebacker Rian Wallace (Washington). Wallace was the last to be drafted. He went to Pittsburgh in the fifth in 2005.

"When coach Golden got here [3 years ago], he told me I could play in the NFL if I took it seriously," Knighton said. "At first, I thought he was just trying to make me play better [for him]. When he says it over and over, starts comparing you to guys he coached in the past, and he's coached a lot of places, you kind of get the message. At some point, you realize people are going to be looking at you and it starts to kick in. You take your game to another level.

And here he is, about to move on to the next part of his life.

"I don't think it's really hit me yet," Knighton said. "It still all seems a little nerve-racking. Right now, I'm just trying to finish up school and take care of all the things I'm supposed to do. It's not easy."

So far, he has drawn interest from New England, Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

"I grew up as a Patriots' fan," he said. "Being from Connecticut, that's all we got. They took our [NHL] Whalers. Right now, I don't have a preference. Whoever calls me on Sunday, that's my new favorite team." *

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