Name an ultra-talented high school athlete, and odds are, Alabama football coach Nick Saban has at least contemplated recruiting him. That includes Olympian Erriyon Knighton.
Most people know Knighton as the young man who, in the 200 meters, ran the second-fastest time of any athlete under 18 in world history, recording a time of 20.23 seconds in the final at the 2020 USA Track and Field Junior Olympics. He has since turned professional, skipping his final two years of high school.
But Knighton is more than just a guy who can turn on the jets on the track. The Tampa, Fla., native also stood out as a quarterback, wide receiver, running back and safety at Hollsboro High School. And he was good enough to be recruited by Saban.
Knighton stands 6-foot-3 and likely would have been a receiver, had he signed on with the Crimson Tide. Then again, he appears to possess a wide array of football-related skills, so it’d be hard to pinpoint precisely which position he’d play.
“In studying his highlight tape, he possessed the ball skills, speed, hands, tackling abilities, football intelligence, and explosiveness to play on offense or defense,” wrote Stephen M. Smith of Touchdown Alabama.
It’s hard to say what Knight would have done at Alabama, and who knows? Maybe pro football is in his future. Other track athletes and college basketball players with size and speed, such as Hall-of-Fame tight ends Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, have made the leap.
For now, though, Knight is clearly focused on his pro and Olympic track career. And that undoubtedly makes sense.
“Last week, Knighton recorded a time of 20.04 seconds in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials,” Smith noted. “He would then run a time of 19.88 seconds in the semifinals, beating the under-20 record held by the legendary Usain Bolt. Knighton also beat Noah Lyles, a 23-year-old world champion, in the event. Lyles won the World Athletics Championship in 2019 for the 200 meters.”