CAREER: He has 1,199 career rushing yards and 3 career 100-yard rushing games. He has 8 career games with at least 100 all-purpose yards.
2009: The exciting, elusive and versatile McKnight again will be a significant contributor both running and receiving from the tailback position and as a returner as a junior in 2009.
2008: McKnight was used in a variety of ways while being a key component in USC's tailback rotation as a sophomore in 2008. He also again spent some time returning punts. Overall in 2008 while appearing in 11 games (all but Washington State and Washington) and starting the Oregon State game, he had 659 yards on 89 carries (7.4 avg.) with 2 TDs, plus he had 21 receptions for 193 yards (9.2 avg.) with 1 TD and 9 punt returns for 53 yards (5.9 avg.). His 7.4 average per carry in 2008 was fourth best in the nation. He had 5 games with at least 100 all-purpose yards and 2 games with 100-plus rushing yards in 2008. He missed the Washington State game with a sprained toe, then reinjured the toe prior to the Washington game and missed that contest. He also had to endure a chipped finger and a hyperextended elbow suffered in 2008 fall camp. He made 2008 All-Pac-10 honorable mention and won USC's Jack Oakie "Rise and Shine" Award.
He had 112 all-purpose yards (60 on 6 carries, 24 on 4 receptions with a 10-yard TD and 28 on 3 kickoff returns) at Virginia. He rushed for 105 yards on 12 carries and a 5-yard punt return for 110 all-purpose yards against Ohio State. He then ran for 10 yards on 7 carries, caught 3 passes for 29 yards and returned 2 punts for 13 yards at Oregon State. He had 114 all-purpose yards (27 yards on 9 carries, 86 yards on 5 catches and a 1-yard punt return) against Oregon. He had a career-high and game-best 143 yards on 11 rushes (including 68 yards on 4 carries in the fourth quarter and 50 yards on 2 tries in the first quarter) to average 13.0 yards per carry, plus had a 7-yard reception, against Arizona State. After returning from a toe injury, he had 16 yards on 5 carries at Arizona. Then, after again missing a came because of the injured toe, he rushed for 51 yards on 7 carries and caught 3 passes for 25 yards against California. He ran for 72 yards on 8 tries at Stanford. He had a game-best 63 yards on 4 carries (with a 55-yard zig-zagging TD run, a USC season long rush) against Notre Dame, plus caught 3 passes for no yards and returned 2 punts for 6 yards. He had 112 all-purpose yards (a game-best 99 on 15 carries, with a 12-yard TD, plus a 13-yard catch) at UCLA. Against Penn State, he ran for 13 yards on 5 carries and had a 9-yard reception before leaving the game with 4 dislocated toes early in the second quarter.
2007: McKnight served as an often-used backup tailback and was USC's top punt returner as a first-year freshman in 2007. Overall in 2007 while appearing in all 13 games (he even started against Illinois), he ran for 540 yards on 94 carries (5.7 avg.) with 3 touchdowns, caught 23 passes for 203 yards (8.8 avg.) with 1 TD and returned 19 punts for 160 yards (8.4 avg.). He was named to the 2007 Rivals.com Freshman All-American second team (as a punt returner) and The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman first team, as well as being an All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick.
He had 26 yards on 6 carries and caught an 8-yard pass against Idaho, then had a 5-yard run at Nebraska. He added 48 rushing yards on 7 carries and also had an 11-yard punt return against Washington State. He had 2 carries for 3 yards and a 4-yard punt return against Stanford. He had 128 all-purpose yards (75 on 13 carries, 49 on 2 punt returns and 4 on 2 receptions) against Arizona (his 45-yard punt return and 59-yard run helped set up a Trojan TD and field goal in the fourth quarter) and won USC's Jack Oakie "Rise and Shine" Award (for the year's longest run from scrimmage). He had a game-best 65 yards on 7 carries (with a 51-yard TD burst) and also returned 5 punts for 31 yards at Notre Dame. He had 34 yards on 10 carries and another 30 yards on 4 receptions at Oregon. He had 94 all-purpose yards (34 on 14 carries, 38 on 3 receptions and 22 on 4 kickoff returns) at Oregon State. He had 9 yards on 4 carries and caught a 7-yard pass at California. He had 108 all-purpose yards (71 yards on 5 receptions with a 7-yard TD catch, 30 yards on 7 carries and a 7-yard punt return) at Arizona State. He had a game-high 89 yards on 13 carries (with a 5-yard TD) and also returned 2 punts for no yards against UCLA. He had 206 all-purpose yards (125 on 10 carries, 45 on 6 receptions and 36 on 3 punt returns) against Illinois, including a 6-yard TD run and a 65-yard scamper with a bobbled lateral.
HIGH SCHOOL: His 2006 honors included Parade All-American Co-MVP, USA Today All-USA first team, EA Sports All-American first team, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Lemming All-American, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star 100, Rivals.com 100, Super Prep All-Southwest, Prep Star All-Southeast, Scout.com All-Southwest and All-State MVP as a senior at John Curtis High in River Ridge (La.). He had 1,928 all-purpose yards (22.2 avg.) and 30 TDs in 2006, including 711 rushing yards on 46 carries (15.5 avg.) with 14 TDs, 739 receiving yards on 24 catches (30.8 avg.) with 13 TDs, 268 yards on 12 punt returns (22.3 avg.) and a 34.6 average on 5 kickoff returns, plus added 10 tackles, 8 deflections and 1 interception on defense. John Curtis went 14-0 and won its third consecutive state 2A championship in 2006.
As a junior in 2005, he made EA Sports All-American third team, All-State, All-East Jefferson Parish and All-District, and was MVP of the state championship game, as he scored 22 touchdowns (9 rushing, 5 receiving, 4 punt returns, 3 interceptions, 1 kickoff return) and averaged 18.0 per play playing part of the year with Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport (La.) because of Hurricane Katrina and then back with John Curtis. He rushed for 502 yards on 36 carries (13.9 avg.), had 497 receiving yards on 20 catches (24.9 avg.), and averaged 38.7 on kickoff returns and 30.0 on punt returns in 2005.
He made Student Sports Sophomore All-American as a 2004 sophomore.
He also sprinted for John Curtis' track team, with a best of 10.4 in the 100 meters (he won the state 100 in 2006 and was second in 2007).
PERSONAL: His sister, Johanna, was on the basketball (guard) and track (sprints/jumps) teams at Richmond.
JOE McKNIGHT ON: Being compared to Reggie Bush: "When I first came in to USC, I felt like I had to live up to the hype. But after a while, I came to my senses...It's not the fans' fault, they just want success for their team. It took me a while to get that out of my head...I mean, it's a lot of pressure. I tried to live up to the expectations."
His up-and-down 2007 freshman season: "I had some problems with the playbook and I had some trouble with fumbles. But it started to get more comfortable as the season went along. Now, it's at the stage where I just react. I know the plays."
WHAT OTHERS SAY: USC head coach Pete Carroll: "He's so fast, he's so quick, he's so elusive...Joe is the real deal. He's a fantastic football player. He's tough and fast and all the rest. He's really a difference-maker."
USC tailback Allen Bradford: "When Joe gets the ball, you know that something's going to happen. You're just waiting to see what it is."
Bruce Feldman, ESPN The Magazine: "Let Jan. 1, 2008 (USC's Rose Bowl win over lllinois), go down as the day Joe McKnight officially stopped coping with being The Next Reggie Bush and arrived as the Trojans' latest star. McKnight proved to the whole college football world that he does in fact have it...For years, recruiters have whispered about McKnight's skills, his effortless change of direction, his burst of speed, his preternatural vision."
Billy Turner, New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Call it speed. Call it a burst. A wiggle. On punts, he has the ability to make the first guy miss. Then he accelerates in a step. Call it a balance most people do not possess. Or call it an indescribable something."
GAME-BY-GAME WITH JOE McKNIGHT