By VINCE PELUSO — email@example.com
Lakeside’s Chase Knight displayed plenty of versatility during the 2012 high school football season.
For the first five games of the season, Knight was the Dragons’ featured tailback, racking up 432 yards, 97 of those coming on a season-defining touchdown run in a 20-14 win over the Edgewood Warriors, Lakeside’s lone victory during the 2012 campaign.
From that point, Knight moved to receiver, finishing fifth in Ashtabula county in receiving yards with 449 yards, averaging 12.7 yards per grab.
“(Former Lakeside) Coach (Ryan) David brought me into his office after the fifth game and thought it would be better for me to switch,” Knight recalled. “Our line was kind of struggling and he thought it would get me into the open field and help the team a lot more. It worked out pretty well.”
Whether it was the switch that featured his versatility or his overall talent on the gridiron that caught eye of recruiters, Knight will take his game to the next level after signing a letter of intent to play for Division II Ashland next season.
The Eagles have plenty to offer Knight as they are fresh off a perfect 11-0 regular season before falling in a close contest in the Division II Region 4 semifinals to West Texas A&M, 33-28.
“I just liked everything about their program,” Knight said. “They went 11-0 last year and were ranked No. 7 in Division II. They have a lot going for them as a program.”
Knight, who said he wanted to play college football since he first started playing in the midget leagues, doesn’t know whether he will be at receiver or running back, but will be ready for whatever the Eagles allow him to do.
“My recruiting coach asked me what I’d like to play, either halfback or slot, and he said he thinks I do either,” Knight said. “They think I’m athletic enough to play whatever position. When I first made the switch to receiver last year, I didn’t really like it.
“But after a couple of games, I liked it a lot. It kind of showed my athleticism and I had a lot of fun playing the last half of the season. So I’ll be happy to play either in college.”
While Lakeside won just one game for the second-consecutive season, Knight’s school-record 97-yard scamper against Edgewood does stick out as the highlight of his season.
That, in addition to the Dragons’ Week 9 loss to Madison.
“That run was the highlight of my season, I went back and watched it on the film and it was just cool,” he said. “So the Edgewood game was a fun game, and I had a lot of fun against Madison. That was probably my best receiving game. It was just fun being a crosstown rival.”
The running back turned receiver had 198 yards receiving in that game on 10 catches, including a 74-yard touchdown reception.
Knight, whose career started at Jefferson, believes the rigors of the Premier Athletic Conference schedule will help prepare him for what’s ahead at Ashland.
“I mean at Jefferson, the schedule was a little weaker, but moving to the PAC, that’s a lot harder and it’s only going to help me at the next level,” he said. “I feel I’ll be more prepared for the size and speed of the game. It’ll be different going up to college, obviously, but I think I’ll be prepared because the PAC is very tough.”
The son of Jodi Knight and Jim Smith said his parents played a large part in helping him have the opportunity to play football at program at the level of Ashland.
“My mom was a big help financially and she took a lot of time out of her days and weeks to take me up to speed and strength training for four years all the way out in Eastlake,” he said. “My dad got me started with weight training, teaching me the basics of football and all that. He’s been a big help to me.”
At this point, Knight doesn’t know whether he will play right away as a freshman, but he has no problems with waiting his turn.
“I don’t mind sitting out and learning because the program’s great, I’m fine with waiting,” he said. “They haven’t really said much if I’ll be playing next year or not. I’ll battle it out and we’ll see if I can play or not. I’m just excited to get there.
“Their athletic facility and everything is tops for Division II. It’s a beautiful field, stands, they have a great weight room. Everything.”
Until he gets on the field, Knight said he’ll continue to focus on his conditioning, something he has improved thanks to the help of Tim Robertson at Speed Strength Systems in Eastlake.
“I’ve been working on my speed and strength, I’ve improved my bench a lot,” he said. “Everything’s improving a lot and I’m happy with that. Tim Robertson was a really big help with my speed.”