FAYETTEVILLE — As last season started to progress and Trey Knox wasn’t seeing much action at wide receiver, the staff moved him to tight end and it has turned out to be a great move for all involved.
Knox caught 20 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. That was easily his best season since his breakout freshman year. Knox and Hudson Henry give the Hogs an outstanding one-two punch at tight end in 2022.
“So I’m weighing about 240,” Knox said. “Put on about 20 pounds. It was pretty hard, but you know, gotta keep eating. That’s really the biggest thing is eating and eating. Especially when you get in times like this and you’re going and going you have to eat or you’ll lose weight. The transition has been very fun. I love playing tight end. I think I can make a lot of money playing tight end. So I’ve been having my fun with it and you know just gonna see what it does this next season.”
Knox was involved in an auto accident during spring break when he suffered a concussion. But he returned to practice this week and went through Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I feel great,” Knox said. “Sat out for a little bit. Had to get my head right. I had a concussion. But I mean, I felt great today. This weight’s been great and I’m feeling good. So I mean, I’m back.”
Quarterback KJ Jefferson is pleased to have Knox at tight end giving him a big target to hit.
“Just his versatility and just the mismatches that he creates,” Jefferson said. “I mean coming from as a receiver and still having that receiver mindset of just being able to get the ball and make plays and make guys miss him in space. That’s the main thing. I consider him a flex tight end because we still line them up outside at receiver and maybe a linebacker comes out there on him or a nickel or something like that. I mean with the size he has and the hands that he has, I mean, he’s a mismatch problem.”
Knox has gained 23 pounds and talked about how he managed to do it once it became apparent he would be a full-time tight end.
“It started last season when I made the transition,” Knox said. “I was weighing about 217. So what I was focusing on was just stuffing my face with food. Basically, just trying to gain any and every pound that I could through the course of the season. And after the season, I hit the weight room hard, eating a lot of calories just trying to pack on some weight and I feel pretty good.”
Knox has seen Arkansas go from 2-10, 3-7 and then 9-4 in his time on the squad. What does he feel about this year’s older and bigger team?
“I think we do have a well-season team, a very seasoned team,” Knox said. “Guys have played a lot of ball on our team, and that does help them with the younger guys of being good teachers and making our younger guys better every single day by teaching them things that defenses do, how to attack things and be good in their craft. I think that’s what an older team brings to the table. We’ve played a lot of ball and we’re gelled together so nicely. Our chemistry is off the charts. I’m excited.”
Obviously one of the biggest reasons for Arkansas’ turnaround as a program is Sam Pittman. Even the 3-7 season was impressive considering that was an All-SEC slate and prior to the 2020 year the Razorbacks had one conference win in three years.
“I think he just restored the hope,” Knox said. “This is a proud state. We say it all the time. We play with a chip on our shoulder. This man, he could finish his coaching career here. We love him, the fans love him, and he’s brought that grittiness, that toughness that we’re going to go out there every week and hit you in the mouth until you quit. I think that’s what he’s brought to the table.”
Pittman praised the toughness of this year’s team and Knox agrees with that as well.
“Just the way that we practice, the intensity is what makes us so tough,” Knox said. “The defense brings it every day, so we have no choice but to bring it on the offensive side. I think that’s what makes a better team, when you can compete day in and day out and be healthy. It’s easy to go out there and hurt one of your teammates or get mad, but it takes a close-knit team to go out there and practice as intense as we do and stay as healthy as we do.”
The defense brought it again during Saturday’s scrimmage. Who on that side of the football has impressed Knox?
“I have to block (linebacker Drew Sanders) most of the time,” Knox said. “I’ve been out, but I’ve watched. The man flies to the ball. Drew, he sniffs it out and he goes 110 to the ball, and he’s hard to block in space. He does this little spin move. I don’t know, it’s been getting everybody. It almost got me today. He just flies, and he’s athletic. I haven’t seen anybody move the way that he does. In space, it’s hard to block when somebody is flying at you and can juke you out or run through your face. He has a knack for the ball.”
Unlike most years the spring game didn’t wrap up the drills. Arkansas still has three practices remaining and Knox has things in mind to work on.
“I want to touch up on working on technique,” Knox said. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing. Coming out healthy and just working on, especially for myself, working on footsteps and blocking, shooting my hands and getting good hand placement and just cleaning up my technique. It can always be cleaned up and always be tweaked to make you a better player.”
Arkansas will open the season at home against Cincinnati on Saturday, Sept. 3.