Smyrna’s Knight hopes to shine like his star brother

Smyrna High sophomore running back Wayne Knight goes through drills during preseason practice. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

SMYRNA — Wayne Knight shakes his head and cracks a small smile.

When he was younger he watched his older brother Will Knight rewrite the Smyrna High record book and become the all-time leading rusher in Delaware high school football history.

Now Wayne Knight is in the Smyrna backfield, wearing the same red jersey with the white No. 25 his older brother wore.
Isn’t that a lot of pressure, to live up to that? Not to him.

“I look at it as motivation,” Wayne Knight said. “He’s the number one Delaware high school running back of all-time, that’s motivation for me to try to do better than that.”

As a sophomore, Knight will be a key cog for the Smyrna offense, in its first week of practice as the fall sports season began this week.

Knight took over the starting running back role for the Eagles toward the end of last season as a freshman. He had his breakout performance with a 158-yard game against Salesianum in the penultimate game of the year.

Knight followed that up with 77 yards on 11 carries and a pair of touchdowns in the season finale against Polytech.

“Once he got comfortable you got to see the flashes of who he really is,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “He’s a 150-yard back like he did against Sallies. You see that this could be your guy. It was just a matter of time and he’s arrived.”

Wayne isn’t the only Knight on the Eagles this year. He will be joined by the youngest brother, Yamir Knight, who is a freshman.
Judy said the Knight brothers all have the same attitude on the field.

“They’re the type of kids where if there is pressure, they don’t show it,” Judy said. “You are who you are. It doesn’t matter who your brother is, all we’re concerned is getting you to be better than you were yesterday.”

Wayne Knight spent the first half of his freshman season rotating in and out of the Smyrna running backfield behind starter Stephen Whaley.

Knight scored his first high school touchdown in the third game of the year against Cape Henlopen. When Whaley was injured later in the season, Knight became the top back.

That experience at the end of the year was extremely beneficial for Knight ahead of this season.

“It allowed me to get a feel for the game,” Knight said. “I was able to understand the game more. Going from middle school football to high school football, the game is way faster. I’m just moving at the same pace now.”

Knight said he’s picked up right where he’s left off entering this camp.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “We’ve been moving fast, putting all the plays in. I feel like we’re going to be good this season.”

Judy said he was never going to give Wayne Knight the expectations of being the next Will Knight, who is currently a running back at the University of Delaware. Judy is focused on making Wayne Knight the best version of himself.

He’s also excited he has three more seasons to coach Knight.

“He’s a different player than Will,” Judy said. “He has his own strengths. There’s things that at this point in their lives he’s better than Will at. I’m glad we got him for this long, he’s only a sophomore. There’s a lot of opportunity for him to grow before he’s in college.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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