"It's sort of amusing for us friends," said OU center Ty Darlington, Knight's roommate. "We walk into a room with him and wait for the moment we see the recognition in their eyes, and people start whispering when they notice him. It always happens."
In only a few short months, Knight has gone from an unknown to the leader of OU's offense. During the offseason, Bell volunteered to move to tight end and Thompson transferred to Utah, leaving Knight as the Sooners' elder statesman under center.
Knight isn't looking over his shoulder anymore -- unless it's for someone seeking his autograph.
"This allows me to step into a leadership role maybe a little bit easier than it would have been," Knight said. "It's a good feeling. I have a good grasp of what's going on, and I feel like the guys are rallying behind me. I'm just being able to pour my confidence into them and be able to play."
EUGENE, Ore. -- They pride themselves on continuity at Oregon. In the past two decades, the football program has been handed down from head coach to offensive coordinator. Rich Brooks took the Ducks to the 1995 Rose Bowl and handed it over to Mike Bellotti, whose 2001 team should have played for the BCS title and didn't. Bellotti handed his program over to Chip Kelly, and Oregon lost the 2011 BCS championship to Auburn on the last play of the game.
Kelly, after taking the Ducks to four consecutive BCS bowls, handed the program over to Mark Helfrich, and now's the time to pull out the inkblot. Do you see a team that went 11-2 and shared the Pac-12 North title? Or do you see a team that suffered its biggest loss (42-16 at Arizona) in five seasons and played in the Valero Alamo Bowl?
Then there's the departure of longtime defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and the -- yes, in-house -- promotion of linebackers coach Don Pellum to replace him. Oregon has subtly entered the biggest transition it has undergone in some time. In the past 12 months, the Ducks have introduced a new head coach and two new coordinators (Scott Frost was promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Helfrich).
Or there's the real reason that Oregon slipped in the second half of last season: the sprained MCL in quarterback Marcus Mariota's left knee. Mariota without his wheels is a Porsche stuck in first gear.
Mariota is healthy now, bigger and stronger and coming off a very good spring, which helps, because Helfrich doesn't want to pin the Ducks' November slump on any one player. Not even his best one.
"Stuff happens. That's something that happens," Helfrich said. "That's part of the reason we don't talk about it. At some level, it becomes an excuse. Everybody deals with stuff. Our guys battled, certainly in the Stanford game [a 26-20 Cardinal victory], as hard as we could. We did not battle as hard as we could in the Arizona game, which is probably even that much more frustrating as to why. But we'll learn from it and we moved on."
Oregon is a veteran team and a hungry one. The BCS bowls may be history, but the Ducks want everyone to know they are not.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Without Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina's defense will take on a different look in 2014.