Smyrna’s Knight signs with Old Dominion

Will Knight gets a kiss from his mother Yolanda after he signed with Old Dominion at Smyrna High School on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

SMYRNA — Will Knight will continue his decorated football career out of state after all.

Smyrna High’s star running back signed his National Letter of Intent and accepted a scholarship to Old Dominion University during a ceremony hosted by Smyrna High on Wednesday afternoon.

Knight had given a verbal commitment to the University of Delaware before the start of his senior season. In the end, though, he took the chance to play for a school in Conference USA in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but Knight said his decision had more to do with his happiness.

“I know for sure I could play at a higher level,” Knight said. “But it’s not about the level. It came down to where I felt more comfortable at. Old Dominion turned out to be the best decision for me.”

But the chance for more exposure against the bigger schools who did not offer him, wasn’t lost on Knight.

“I’ll be able to play at the highest level and show my real talent for all the colleges that doubted me in the Power Five,” Knight said.

Smyrna head football coach Mike Judy, left, listens to Will Knight as his mother Yolanda and his sister Yolanda look on after he signed with Old Dominion at Smyrna High School on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Smyrna coach Mike Judy said Knight couldn’t go wrong with whatever he chose based on his options. Knight had multiple offers from FBS and Football Championship Subdivision schools and was down to Old Dominion, Delaware and Bowling Green as his final three.

“I think the football being played at the schools that were options for him are all very similar,” Judy said. “We all know what he’s capable of and the schools do too. Every school that offered him knows how much a steal he is. … All the options he had were great options and great coaching staffs. This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever seen a kid have to make at this age.”

“He ended up going with something inside of him,” Judy added. “I know he really loved all these schools and that made it even more difficult.”

Knight finished his senior year at Smyrna with 2,164 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns despite missing two games due to injuries. He led the Eagles to three consecutive Division I state championships and holds the state record for most career rushing yards, 6,490, breaking the previous record held by Chris Jones of Laurel in the final game of the regular season.

Will Knight holds up an Old Dominion jersey after he signed with the college at Smyrna High School on Wednesday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

His historic year was capped off with his second Offensive Player of the Year award, which he also won as a sophomore in 2015. It made him the first player in state history to win the award twice.

Knight said he did not regret verbally to Delaware so early, saying his decision was more about himself and Old Dominion instead of Delaware.

“I decided what was best for me,” Knight said. “It’s not taking anything away from Delaware because Delaware is a great program and they’re going to do a lot of great things.”

Knight began his signing ceremony by mentioning how badly he wanted this scholarship for his mother, Yolanda Knight.

“It’s important for me to help my mom out,” Knight said. “For my parents not to have to pay for college, it’s a blessing. It shows my brothers that no matter what goal you have, you can accomplish it no matter what people say. It’s for my family so they won’t have to stress anymore.”

His family moved to Smyrna from Philadelphia when Knight was about a year old in 2001. Yolanda Knight said she wanted to raise her children in more of suburban area and the decision worked out better than she could have imagined.

“I’m overjoyed,” she said. “I’m grateful and thankful. I give this to God first because without him this would never be possibly. William was a very determined child but seeing him grow up, I never thought there would be an excitement like this.”

Knight said he plans to major in either physical therapy or sports management while at Old Dominion.

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