A prized quarterback prospect, Nixa’s Adam McKnight is getting the chance to experience life on the flip side of passes as a freshman.
McKnight made his varsity debut two weeks ago by starting at wide receiver at Branson. He made his first impact by running for a crucial first down on a tight end reverse at Joplin last week.
This time next year, indications are McKnight will be behind center. He was converted into a wide receiver for the first time this past off-season.
“I'm kind of hoping to be a quarterback. Whatever they need me to do, I can do," McKnight said of his future. “I like both (positions). I like different aspects of both. Reading the defense at quarterback is fun, and at wide receiver obviously catching touchdown passes is always fun.”
McKnight is playing both Friday and Monday nights. He’s at quarterback for the Eagles’ freshman team.
Per MSHSAA’s rules book, a player can see up to six quarters of playing time spread out over the freshman, jayvee and varsity levels.
“If we have to have him on Fridays, we’re going to stay within the limits and still let him be with his (freshman) teammates,” coach John Perry said. “We’ll pick and choose places to get him in. We want him to play as much ninth grade as he can. The ninth grade team is really good, so we don't want to take that away from him. We’ll have him do both as long as we can.”
McKnight reports he is fitting in with his varsity teammates.
“The upperclassmen are nice to me,” he said. “It’s a great culture to be around.”
Perry and former Nixa coach Rich Rehagen haven’t hesitated playing freshmen on Friday nights. Other players in recent years who logged significant varsity minutes as freshmen include Jackson Cantwell, Dylan Rebura and Ramone Green.
McKnight is happy to join their company.
“I'm proud of myself that I've worked this hard,” he said. “I got an opportunity and proved myself.”
Perry is excited about McKnight’s future.
“He's going to be a fantastic player," Perry said. “He’s a talented kid, probably the best ninth grade player in southwest Missouri. He's going to progress and get better and better.”