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With offers rolling in, Southern Nash's Knight soaking in the moment

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Southern Nash's Zonovan Knight, right, breaks away from Fayetteville Westover's Keyshown Lindsey during a run Friday in the first round NCHSAA 3-A state playoffs game at Southern Nash High School.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

At first, Southern Nash’s Zonovan Knight tried to play it cool.

“I’m going to try and see if I can remember all of them,” he said on Wednesday, an hour after his most recent Division I football scholarship offer.

Then came the nine schools, each in rapid succession, each with the diction of a proud high school junior.

Duke, Old Dominion, East Carolina, Wake Forest, Illinois, UNC-Charlotte, Maryland, N.C. State and Louisville.

He could indeed name them all.

The last two -- N.C. State and Louisville -- are both new to the list, two schools that offered the running back in successive days this past Tuesday and Wednesday, though the offers in general have been piling up for the Telegram’s 2017 All-Area Offensive Player of the Year, with four coming in since 2018 began.

On Tuesday, the N.C. State offer came in person from Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren. He came to Southern Nash to meet with coach Brian Foster and Knight after his exams to deliver the news.

On Wednesday, it was after a phone call between Knight and Louisville assistant coach Lonnie Galloway, who recruits North Carolina players, letting Knight know the Cardinals would love to have him.

“He’s been happy with all of (the offers), it’s been humbling to him,” Foster said. “It helps him realize his dreams are coming true, what he’s dream about and worked hard for is happening.”

For Knight, it’s a feeling that never gets old.

“I mean, it’s really a great feeling. You don’t take them for granted, another opportunity to continue my football career and my school career,” he said. “I’m trying to soak it all in, not everybody gets this opportunity, it’s something to be humble about.”

Of the first nine schools, the junior, who compiled 1,877 yards on the ground this season to go with 28 touchdowns, said he was particularly charmed first by the offer from Duke, and on Tuesday, by N.C. State’s gesture, because both are programs close to home, where family and friends would be able to watch him play on Saturdays.

But Knight is still far from a decision, with more visits and more offers likely to come. He hopes to use the spring to visit as many campuses as he can, then narrow down and choose a school by summer, though he wouldn’t be opposed to waiting until next fall or winter if the circumstances called for it.

The dream school, he said, is Clemson, the Tigers coming off a national title in 2017 and a playoff appearance this season, but there hasn’t been any contact from them. In the meantime, he’s waiting to hear back from three schools in particular -- Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame -- which have all communicated with and shown interest in Knight.

Both Southern Nash coach Brian Foster and Knight’s family have been as helpful and supportive as possible, he said, in what has been an exciting time.

“(Coach Foster)’s meant a lot. He’s helped me a lot. He’s the reason I got a couple of offers. Just reaching out to schools, helping me get looked at,” Knight said. “My family -- they don’t really really mind if I go far, they just want me to go where I want to go.”

Added Foster: “He deserves it. He’s worked hard for it. Like I told him, it doesn’t mean nothing if he doesn’t take advantage of it.”

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