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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas receiver Trey Knox carries the ball into the end zone Saturday, April 6, 2019, during the Razorbacks' spring game in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville - Photo by Andy Shupe

FAYETTEVILLE -- Trey Knox knows he's ridden the hype train from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to the University of Arkansas as one of the jewels of the Razorbacks' recruiting class, a consensus four-star recruit and an ESPN 300 selection.

The 6-4 wide receiver was a coveted prospect throughout the SEC and beyond before enrolling in January with the Hogs, and he was a standout in spring drills in Chad Morris' second season as head coach.

Knox at a glance

CLASS Freshman

POSITION Wide receiver

HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-4, 210 pounds

HOMETOWN Murfreesboro, Tenn.

HIGH SCHOOL Blackman

AGE 17 (Birthdate Aug. 14, 2001)

NOTEWORTHY Ranked No. 274 on the ESPN 300 list of national recruits. ... No. 16 wide receiver in the country and No. 4 player in Tennessee by Rivals. ... Had 35 catches for 558 yards and 4 TDs in 10 games as a senior. Rushed for 301 yards and 5 TDs on 34 carries, and posted 19 tackles with 3 sacks on defense. ... Chose Arkansas over finalists Florida, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee as well as Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and others.

On top of his physical skill set and energetic personality, Knox has perhaps the longest hair on the team. The attributes add up to a potential, and easily recognizable, star.

Knox, who turns 18 on Aug. 14, is well aware of the hype.

"Just walking around this town, it's like, 'Trey, hey! Hope you do great things for the Hogs,' " Knox said last week. "I get all the love. I really appreciate it.

"But at the same time, I can't let it go to my head. I'm still here to do business, get my degree and hopefully go play in the NFL. I've just got to keep a level head, keep my head low."

The Razorbacks won a recruiting battle for Knox -- who played receiver, quarterback and linebacker in high school -- who narrowed his final five to the Razorbacks, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State and Penn State.

Receivers coach Justin Stepp was Knox's primary recruiter, but Morris and coordinators John Chavis and Joe Craddock played key roles along with the rest of the staff.

"Everybody has facilities and fans," Knox said. "But the people here are very genuine. I come from a genuine family. That stuck with me, just knowing Coach Morris and how he operates. And Coach Stepp, really getting to know him and developing a relationship, really pushed me to come here."

Stepp said it was important to build a relationship with Knox, his family and his high school Coach Kit Hartsfield.

"I think he sees obviously what we've done with the receiver position in this offense," Stepp said of Knox. "I think he sees the genuine-ness, the family feel. Because sooner or later, you can't fake that in recruiting. I think he felt like he was going to be a part of something special, be a part of turning something around."

Prior to spring ball, Craddock pointed out Knox as a key signee.

"I think he's going to be a really good player for us," Craddock said. "Not saying we didn't hit on everybody else, but I'm saying we definitely hit on Trey Knox. I think he's going to be a good player for us through the years.

"He's got the potential and the want-to and the drive and the desire to be a special player in the SEC and the country and even at the next level."

Hartsfield explained to Rivals.com last year how Knox rises above many players.

"There's not many guys his size in the country that are considered a speed receiver," Hartsfield said. "Not everybody can be Julio Jones straight out of high school. With his size and his frame and that offense that Coach Morris has, he uses guys like that well.

"Everyone has corners that run fast, so you have fast corners on fast receivers, but they can't match up with his size. Good ball placement and things like that, it doesn't matter if they're covering him or not because he's really always open because of his ability to go up and make plays."

Knox put himself on a fast track of getting involved with the top unit on offense. He scored touchdowns time and again during team periods and scrimmages in the spring, prompting quarterback Ben Hicks to gush, "Yeah, really he's just kind of a freak for his age. He's still going to grow into his body."

Knox came to the Hogs at 6-4, 218 pounds, but he's intentionally lost weight to get to about 210 pounds.

"I mean, I've gotten more explosive that way and my speed has picked up," Knox said. "I'm getting stronger. So I think dropping like 10 pounds helped me out a bit."

Knox wants to be more of a speed burner -- estimating his time in the 40-yard dash is in the low 4.5s -- and he's acutely aware of his strengths and weaknesses.

Asked about his skill set, Knox talked like a coach.

"Definitely big body, aggressive, physical, high point the ball," he said. "My route running is probably the best thing about my game. I can take the top off, occasionally.

"I've gotten faster since I've been here. My speed has really developed since high school. I wasn't that fast. I'm gradually getting faster and faster. I'm able to run past guys now. I think I can get down the field more now."

Knox said he attacked the playbook and video study after his arrival in January with coaches or anybody who happened to be in the Smith Center.

"We'd go over the plays," he said. "I'd go up to the board and draw them up, because I wanted to be the best I could possibly be going into spring ball, knowing what I needed to do and how to do it effectively. So I'd come in for two, three hours every day and just go through everything."

Knox got an opening near the midpoint of spring when sophomore Mike Woods, who topped the depth chart at one receiver position, went out with a broken hand. Knox got mostly first-team reps throughout spring and capitalized.

Scrimmage after scrimmage, Morris would mention a Knox touchdown that occurred during team periods.

"Trey Knox continues to impress," Morris said on March 30. "Again, just a young guy, but has a great future ahead of him. He had a big play there right at the end of the scrimmage with a big catch to end the scrimmage with a touchdown."

Fans got to see him catch a crossing route from Ben Hicks and turn it into a 45-yard touchdown in the Red-White game.

"I think I scored in every scrimmage, honestly," Knox said. "It's just fun to go out there and play, by myself, joke around and goof around, and also be serious and go make plays.

"Because I'm a goofy guy. I like to laugh and sing and all that. They're playing Luke Bryan in the background and getting me hyped, and I'll go snag one or something."

Knox touted Hicks' pass for his spring game score, on which cornerback Jarques McClellion was in close coverage.

"He dimed it. Threw it right in there," Knox said. "The play was a little crosser, a mesh pattern across the middle. Ben made a great throw because ... Ques was right there. I didn't even know I caught the ball at first. I was running, threw my hands out there, and I looked down and I had the ball."

Knox saw linebacker Grant Morgan converging fast and safety Kam Curl beyond him breaking down to make a hit. He planted, cut, slapped Curl's hands away and sprinted in for the score.

"I was like, 'Man, it's really cool hearing the people go wild. I could do this for three or four years.' " Knox said.

As for interests outside of football, Knox said he's into all kinds of music, video games and a pursuit he's taken up recently -- ax throwing at Ozark Axe House in Rogers.

"I've been ax throwing a couple of times," he said. "I'm pretty good at that."

A communications major, Knox would like to be a sports analyst when his playing days are over.

Shamar Nash, a fellow freshman receiver from Memphis who has known Knox since ninth grade, liked what he saw from his buddy in the spring.

"Trey looked great," Nash said. "Trey was fluid. He put in the time to know the playbook, to know as much as he could. When it was time for him to step up, he did."

Knox said the decision to enroll early paid off.

"It was very worth it," he said. "I came up here, got the experience of college, got the first semester under my belt ... got to play in the spring game, got to showcase what I'm about to these older guys.

"I think that's way better than sitting at home for six months just working out, doing the senior things. I'd rather be here in school."

Knox said he became a recruiter after joining up with offensive skill players such as Nash and quarterback KJ Jefferson in the 2019 signing class.

"After I committed, I hopped on the Hudson Henry bandwagon and I was like, 'Hudson, you already know what time it is. You know what we're trying to pull together,' " Knox said. "As soon as my business was done, I went on trying to help everybody else out."

Knox wants to be known as part of a group that reversed the Razorbacks' fortunes after back-to-back losing seasons.

"I think we're getting the players that Coach Morris needs in his system," Knox said. "I think we already have this certain chemistry. Our camaraderie and our togetherness and our chemistry is going to take us a long way.

"I'm just trying to go out here and set the precedent for the dudes that are coming behind me. We're trying to be an Air Raid team. We're trying to air it out. We're trying to go make plays downfield and be explosive. So I think this year is the year that we're going to show the country that we're about that."

Sports on 06/30/2019

Print Headline: Trey's day arrives: Knox in running to exceed hype

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