By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Over the past two years, a common phrase uttered by Millington Trojan Football public address announcer Mark Healy has been, ‘Tackle by Devin Knight.’
Often Healy’s voice would pick up energy and echo through the Flag City sky on Friday night, ‘SAACCCKKKKKEED by Devin Knight.’ Those who support the Black and Gold of Millington have referred to Knight in the same light as recent Trojan defensive greats like Patrick Macon, Alan Cross and George Odum. Those three have started on the Division I college level and Knight is preparing to be the next.
Flashback to 2018, the boy who grew up in Frayser attending Corning Elementary and Hawkins Mills Middle School found himself in Millington.
“I wasn’t really taking it that serious because I wasn’t getting that much PT,” Knight admitted. “I started to take it real seriously when I was in middle school about my seventh grade year playing for Barrett’s Chapel.”
Still not convinced he was a Division I level talent, Knight was just going with the flow during his first varsity football season in 2018.
“It just clicked for me that I had the talent for this,” he said. “I used to football knowing I could hit and stuff. It just clicked that I could really do something for my team and my coaches. I really liked being a part of a family.”
Family for Knight starts with his mother Tiffany. She allowed him to play for the Northaven Bulldogs during his elementary school years. Then mentors like Karnell Penn had a chance to influence Devin and help him tap into his potentinal as an athlete and person.
“The first person that had me thinking I could really do something was my Coach, Coach Penn,” Knight recalled. “He got me playing multiple sports.
I played basketball and have been improving my game ever since then,” he continued. “He helped me open up as a person. I was about 12 years old when all this happened. After Coach Penn pointed it out and open me up to the world, I came out of my shell. After that everybody used to tell me ‘Hey, Devin you’re gifted.’”
Penn gave Knight a chance to travel the United States and get exposure to life outside of the Memphis area. Since playing for the Trojans, Knight has gained exposure to colleges wanting his talents.
“For my junior year my mindset was straight win,” Knight said. “I knew we could win. I just had to stay on pace and keep my team on pace.”
Knight’s focus on team first helped the Trojans go 8-2 in the regular season, win a second straight Region 8-4A title and earn a playoff victory. Knight was the man calling plays on defense and making sure he was in the right place to neutralize the opposition.
“I like being a leader,” Knight said. “This was when I really felt it and I kicked it up a notch, the quarterback is like the leader of the whole team. I used to always want to be the quarterback because I liked the leadership. I just wanted to be a leader. Then my defensive coach told me, ‘You’re the linebacker. You’re like the quarterback of the defense.’ Once I heard that I was like it’s over with.”
Knight shared the field with another Millington Football great Tommy Clifton. Clifton set records for the Trojans at quarterback and now is moving onto the college level at Harding University.
“Tommy started to come to me before every game, ‘Get the defense together,’” Knight recalled. “That’s when I knew I was a real leader. My philosophy is grind out, show out and show I can do everything they expect of me.”
Now with full confidence, Knight expects to elevate his game for his senior campaign. He also expects to land that college scholarship and maybe even reach the professional level like Odum and Cross. But for now he said he owes one year of giving his all to Trojan Football family.
“We’ve got to stick together and make sure everybody is on point,” he concluded. “And keep everything family and keep everything together.”