When Trevor Knight was allowed to contact other schools after deciding to leave Oklahoma, he quickly reached out to Texas A&M.
Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin took the phone call, but he wasn’t optimistic about Knight’s future in College Station.
“It was a different conference and I was closer to home, so I figured I might as well have the conversation,” said Knight, a native of San Antonio. “(Sumlin) was very adamant on the idea that they had two quarterbacks that they felt comfortable with.”
Within a few days, A&M’s situation changed after sophomore Kyle Allen announced in mid-December that he would transfer and freshman Kyler Murray left the program a week later.
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This time, Sumlin called Knight.
“Our phone calls after that were a little bit different,” Knight said. “We started having more recruiting-like conversations and kept moving forward from there. … He definitely wasn’t begging, but he definitely saw a need for a quarterback.”
At the time, junior Jake Hubenak, a transfer from Blinn College, was the only scholarship quarterback left on the roster.
Adding Knight, who is immediately eligible as a graduate-student transfer, to the roster filled a glaring void and also gave the 2014 Sugar Bowl MVP a chance to finish his career on the field after he’d lost his starting job with the Sooners to Baker Mayfield.
Knight’s teammates are understandably thrilled he chose the Aggies — especially after the saga with Allen, who transferred to Houston, and Murray, who landed (ironically enough) at Oklahoma.
“It was a crazy atmosphere at the time,” junior wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones said. “One had left and then the other had left and we didn’t know what was going on. We had a team meeting and talked about it. Trevor came in and it was history ever since.”
It didn’t take long for Knight to assert himself as a leader at A&M, prompting Sumlin to dub him the starter coming out of spring practice.
“He came into the first team meeting and, sitting there in the front row with his beard, all of the 17- and 18-year-old guys are going, ‘Who is that old man? Didn’t I see him on TV playing for Oklahoma?’ ” Sumlin said. “His ability to be humble and still be able to share his experiences and talk to our guys, it’s been fabulous.”
Knight didn’t take anything for granted, though.
“I had to come in and show the guys my work ethic,” Knight said. “That’s good way to earn respect, and I think I did that both in the weight room and in film study. Also, just being relational with the guys, you’ve got to pull guys aside and have one-on-one conversations, get to know them as people and not just football players. That earns their respect as well.”
Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in an upset win against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl during his redshirt freshman year in 2013.
He started 10 games as a sophomore, but he lost the starting job last season to Mayfield, a Texas Tech transfer and Heisman Trophy favorite.
Injuries — and the battle to regain his starting spot after mending — were “a killer” for Knight’s confidence.
“Now, with a fresh start,” Knight said, “I’ve got more confidence than I ever had in my game being in a new conference, new place, new team, new offense and being named the starter again.”
Knight — who is 11-4 as a starter, including a 6-3 record in Big 12 play — finished his career with the Sooners 280 of 490 passing, a 57.1 completion percentage, for 3,424 yards with 25 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 24 games, including 15 starts.
He’s worked hard to establish a rapport and timing with a new group of pass-catchers and said mastering a new offense was among his biggest immediate challenges, but the effort’s been rewarded.
“(Knight’s) the type of guy that you want to go to battle with, because you know he’s going to do everything he can to win,” Seals-Jones said.