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Knight shines for Vols

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By Robert Howey

Andrew Jackson High School senior offensive lineman Dylan Knight’s in his final season with the Volunteers, but his shining example is what new AJ coach Louis Clyburn hopes to build his program for the future.Clyburn, as Knight notes, likes to see the AJ players excel not only on the football field, but in class and in the community.“He put us in the mindset that if you’re going to do something, then do it well,” Knight said. “It sets a standard. You have to make the grades to play football and you can’t be in trouble all the time because that will keep you off the football team, too.”The only trouble Knight and his offensive line teammates are causing is for opposing defensive linemen.He’s coming off a 90 percent grade, three-knockdown block effort in the Vols’ 27-15 home win over North Central last week. His play earned Knight recognition as the Tri-County Division II Offensive Lineman of the Week.Toss in the fact this week, Knight was extended an invitation to join the school’s National Honor Society makes it that much sweeter for the 6-1, 255-pounder.A two-year starter for the Vols, Knight was a second-team all-county pick last season after missing a portion of the season with a broken jaw. On the academic side, he’s No. 9 in the AJ Class of 2009 with a 4.35 grade point average. He also scored 1,300 on the SAT.His football ability and academic numbers earned him an invite to Harvard University’s football camp last summer.“To be on Harvard’s recruiting list means Dylan has the grades and ability,” said Clyburn, a Camden native who played college football at Duke. “Dylan’s a hard worker and does what it takes to be successful.“Our offensive line play has been steady this season and he’s a major reason,” Clyburn said.Knight said he enjoyed the Harvard camp.“There were other people who were stronger and had more ability, but I felt I held my own,” Knight said. “I was honored to be there. There wasn’t any grits or sweet tea, but it was a great experience.”Right now, Knight wants to bring some prestige to the Vols’ football program.“I think we have a chance to show AJ’s not a 3-8 team,” he said. “We’re determined to win. Coach Clyburn stresses that if we do our job, we can win.“We’re doing the little things better,” Knight said. “If we keep working and correcting the little things, I think we can compete with the teams on our schedule.”Knight said the Vols’ 12-point home win over North Central was a boost.“That was a game we lost last year that we felt we should have won, so it felt good to win,” Knight said. “It creates confidence. The system that coach Clyburn and coach (David) Moore have put in can work. If we do those things they stress, we can be successful.”Knight has a goal of averaging 87 on his film grade for the season and he also wants to help the upcoming linemen be able to step in and play.“I appreciate the younger people in the background,” Knight said. “Robert Massey is a freshman and I go against him in practice. He never takes a play off and that kind of player can make you better.”AJ offensive line coach Larry Cox said Knight’s example benefits the team.“Dylan takes his job serious and does all he can to get an edge, either watching film or working hard in practice,” Cox said. “You love to coach players like Dylan. He works hard everyday. The younger players see that and know that’s the way we want it to be. Dylan’s just good for the team.”