FAYETTEVILLE — Junior Trey Knox burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2019 catching 28 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.
It appeared the 6-foot-5, 209-pound wide receiver was headed for stardom. But then in 2020 his numbers slipped to seven receptions for 70 yards in 10 games. Unlike many in this day and age, Knox chose to stay at Arkansas instead of entering the transfer portal. He was asked if that entered his mind?
“I feel like that goes through a lot of people’s minds,” Knox said. “It obviously did. But I love it here in Fayetteville. I love the staff. I love my teammates. I really care about how my teammates view me and I love it here, so I want to be here, I want to help this program go back to the top, be at the top. I feel like it’s best to just stick it out.”
Knox has bounced back this spring and is drawing first-team reps with Treylon Burks and Mike Woods.
“Well, last season didn’t go the way I wanted it to, obviously,” Knox said. “Really this offseason I’ve been focused on getting faster, putting on weight. I’ve already gained like eight pounds. Just trying to better myself, keep my head down and work because I’ve got faith in myself, the coaches have faith in me. I think we’re going to be alright.”
Safety Simeon Blair has to face Knox some in practice. He feels the old Knox is back.
“Trey Knox, he’s worked his butt off,” Blair said. “He’s got better at running routes, just trying to take his entire game to the next level. We did some one-on-one drills before the spring even started, giving each other pointers on, like, what a DB is looking for with a receiver, and what the receiver looks for in a DB. We were just trying to give each other some more knowledge to get better, and I’ve seen him use that on the field in his route running, in his speed and everything he’s done.”
As far as the season last year, Knox was asked why he feels it went like it did?
“I don’t want to make excuses because that’s not the kind of guy I am,” Knox said. “But I think just not having a spring really hurt me because I’m the kind of guy that, I need repetition, repetition. Because I want to know exactly what I’m doing play in and play out. I think not having that spring and then being not 100-percent at the beginning of fall camp really put me at a step behind everyone else and I think I just didn’t get off on the right foot with the coaching staff and not playing fast and going out there and thinking, as I said in the last question. I think those are the things that I think really held me back last year.
“I was just sick. I don’t know. Just throwing up and losing weight. I lost 10 pounds before fall camp started and was just not feeling myself.”
Knox is working hard to make sure his season is more like 2019 than 2020. The work started in the offseason and now in the spring drills.
“This spring I’ve just focused on getting my confidence back because I feel like that was also a problem with me,” Knox said. “I just lost confidence in myself. And so after trying to get my confidence, I do have it back. The goal is not to lose it ever again. And just working on my hands and getting open way more off the top of the route, getting open. But I think I’ve had a very consistent spring and that’s what I’m trying to go for. Explosive. Come in every day and get better and play hard and play fast. So I think I’m having a pretty good spring in those areas.”
Knox also admitted starting off so great as a true freshman out of Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman High School might have caused the expectations to exceed what the reality maybe should have been.
“That’s a good question,” Knox said. “I would say yes, just high expectations. But honestly I hold myself to a higher standard. My freshman year was a good year, but we’re just trying to expound upon that, be better. I’d like to try to meet those expectations because I know I can. I’m going to push myself every day to do it.”
With last season behind him, he talked about how he’s fitting into the offense this year with a new position’s coach in Kenny Guiton who replaced Justin Stepp.
“Last year, I had a lot of problems just, I was thinking out on the field,” Knox said. “But this year, I just find myself going and playing. That’s Coach (Kendal) Briles’ biggest thing – he doesn’t care if you mess up, just go fast, play fast. I finally figured that out, so I feel like I’m fitting in very well, moving a lot better, not thinking as much and just going out there and playing.”
Knox talked about how Guiton is as a new position’s coach.
“The guys love him,” Knox said. “He’s coached with Coach Briles before so they have a history. They like each other. The guys, as soon as he stepped in there Day 1 we jelled together. And we joke around. He’s a great guy and a big body. So he played quarterback, so that’s another perspective that you get as a quarterback coach and receivers that you don’t really get all the time.”