MADISON, Ms. – Last weekend, Nigel Knott set the Internet ablaze with a video of the No. 6 cornerback in the 2016 class catching a football upside down—after he back flipped off the side of a wall. What comes off as an impressive display of athleticism and coordination is the latest installment in a series of acrobatic upside down catches for Knott.
“I’ve been [back flipping] since I was in middle school, but I never really took a camera to it,” Knott said. “I never thought it would get so much publicity. That was my first time doing it off the wall, but I’ve been doing it since middle school. I thought if everyone is doing it, I might as well put it out there. Everyone is doing a backflip, so I should do something unique.”
— Nigel Knott© (@nigelk09) May 29, 2015
“Like five days ago, I was doing backflips just showing family. Then all of the sudden I thought lets do some new stuff. I know people been doing back flips off the wall, so I just ran up the wall and did a backflip. Two days later, I got the idea and made sure to catch it while upside down to make it even better.”
Knott’s brother, Chris Givens, is a wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams, and he says that other players throughout the NFL have taken notice of the eye-popping video.
“I had a couple NFL players, Jonathan Banks and Donte Moncrief that my brother from the Rams showed and they’ve been sending it between their players between the team,” Knott said.
Jonathan Banks is a cornerback in his third season with the Tampa Buccaneers and Donte Moncrief is a second-year wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.
“I had a fan contact me today and he told me how much of an impact I was and he was rooting for my career,” Knott said. “He already knew I was doing it. It was a younger kid, and he looks up to me. Man, that was like the first time anyone told me that. I’ve taken pictures and people have asked for autographs and all that stuff, but it’s the first time someone really contacted me on the phone. So that was an emotional moment for me as well.”
At 5’11”, 175-pounds, Knott has the size and leaping ability to go toe-to-toe with top wide receivers at the next level. This past weekend, Knott camped at Alabama and posted a 44.1” vertical jump. Earlier in the year, Knott registered a 45” vertical at The Opening New Orleans.
Knott has already blown up on the recruiting trail, collecting 25 division one offers on defense thus far, but the four-star prospect will showcase his skills on the offensive side of the ball this fall as well.
“It’s been pretty good, I’m starting to get some work on the offensive side of the ball,” Knott said of his offseason. “I’m going to be another impact on the team. Also I’m just working on weights and trying to get bigger for the next level. That’s really big for me is my weight.”
Last year, Knott racked up 114 tackles, 16 pass deflections, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“At defensive back, my skills would be instinctive speed that can make great plays on the ball, real athleticism and jumping. Definitely jumping, that’s like my favorite thing and just reading the quarterback and being able to recognize the plays. So I guess knowledge on the field.”
While Knott will be transitioning to playing both sides of the ball this year, the talented athlete has an extensive history of playing two ways.
“I actually began playing offense back in my younger days when I was in league play, I started at running back,” Knott said. “I went through every single game scoring six or seven touchdowns, MVP of the league and all that stuff. I just started out on offense, then when I got to middle school I switched to defense because we had so many players on offense, so they put me at cornerback.”
In terms of his recruitment, many top programs from are courting Knott across the country. Knott says that a few are standing out in terms of whom he hears from the most.
“Tennessee always stays in contact,” Knott says. “They put a great effort in being known and the recruiting process. Some other schools would be Oregon and Florida State. They have been contacting me a lot pretty much talking to me about the school and doing it the right way. Also the instate schools. If it’s not them it’s the fans since I live instate. [Those schools] always try to pursue me, but they never put it hard on me. Like Mississippi State, they want to keep their players instate.”
Over the summer, Knott has a busy slate of visits that he is going to take to schools across the country. At this point, Knott does not have a concrete schedule, but he does have a rough idea of which schools he would like to see.
“I would like to get my schedule together, that’s something I’ve been doing lately,” Knott said. “I may be visiting up to ten schools or maybe more. I know I’m heading out to Oregon, Florida State, USC, North Carolina area, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, I’m going to hit the instate as well. Texas A&M, I’m trying to get there too. There will be a couple more that I will be at.”
After these visits are taken, Knott will have a clearer idea of where he will be heading on his official visits, which he intends to use all of.
“We are just heading towards the elimination phase,” Knott said. “My official visits, I’m trying to make them my top five. So before I get to the season, I want to get towards a top five. That way I can get the visits set up. What I’m doing this summer is trying to get out and see the schools so I can make my top five.”
“I’m not planning on my commitment [stretching out to signing day but if it gets too hard and emotional it might stretch out to that day. I don’t want to make it too early, but reasonable so I really know where I want to go too. Then once I do that I can help the school with the recruits.”
Click here to watch Knott’s junior highlight tape.