Headed for Raleigh: Knight, 'the real deal,' signs with 'Pack
By SAMUEL EVERS
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
BAILEY — Catch Southern Nash football coach Brian Foster at the right time, and he’ll spin some affectionate memories of his many former great players.
Add Firebird Zonovan Knight to that list of reminiscence.
Knight, who finished his prolific career with Southern Nash this past November as the all-time leader in rushing yards for a career and a single season, inked his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday at SNHS as part of the early signing period.
It’s officially official: Knight’s heading to N.C. State, and he’s doing so this upcoming semester, having finished up high school early. He’ll join fellow Nash County recruit and soon-to-be Rocky Mount High grad Shyheim Battle, who signed his letter Wednesday as well.
For Foster, the statistics and touchdowns were important, but so was the way Knight handled himself throughout his career in Bailey.
“When it means something to your family, it’s special,” said Foster, who was joined at the signing by his wife, Kim, and his two sons, Zack and Matt. “He’s come over to the house all the time. He’s just a good kid.”
Starting at the conclusion of the 2017 season, Knight’s recruitment turned into a regional story, with offers from power five schools rolling in every few weeks. He initially committed to Duke before reconsidering and settling on N.C. State this past summer.
“Always been real humble,” Foster said. “A lot of kids would take this the wrong way. He hasn’t. I think he appreciates what God gave him. I don’t think he takes that for granted.”
Of course, Wednesday’s commitment to N.C. State was an end of sorts for Knight’s high school career, but his final game against prep athletes was this past weekend, when Knight competed in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. He finished as the game’s offensive MVP, with 24 carries for 168 yards despite a nagging ankle injury he picked up in the Firebirds’ playoff loss to Eastern Alamance.
Foster was at the game in Spartanburg, S.C. He said he wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“He’s gotten tougher. He’s always had ability. He’s just gotten tougher. I was watching him at the Shrine Bowl thinking, he’s probably 65, 70 percent on his ankle,” Foster said. “After that first hit he took you could just tell he was so determined. It reminded me of what he did in the regular season. I was glad people got to see that side of him.”