Knight to lead LHS football

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lakeland High School peered inside and found what it was looking for in its next football coach.

Taking leadership of the Cavaliers is Kevin Knight, a Lakeland graduate who for the last seven years has served as the school’s defensive backs and running backs coach and as one of its indoor/outdoor track coaches, as well.

“Just to be the head coach of the high school that you graduated from, it’s just unbelievable,” said Knight, who is now 34 years old. “Lakeland has done a lot for me.”



Email newsletter signup

Before a brief stint in the NFL and his time at the University of North Carolina, he was a standout football player for the Cavaliers during his tenure from 1995 to 1999, finishing as a two-time All-Southeastern District running back with over 4,000 all-purpose yards.

“Coach (Gregory) Rountree was my (junior varsity) coach, and Coach (Ed) Smither was my varsity coach,” Knight said. “I just wouldn’t be here in the position I’m in now without those guys.”

Rountree, now Lakeland’s activities director, said there are several reasons why he chose Knight.

He first cited that the players gave him their support, and then added, “He was a Lakeland graduate, and he looked like a positive change for the program.”

Rountree said Knight was one of four people interviewed for the job, and he was the only internal candidate.

After talking with Knight about the future of Lakeland’s football program, Rountree said Knight had “some of the same ideas we had.”

“My vision is just to help these young guys become respectable young men,” Knight said of Lakeland’s football players. “My job is just to come out here and get these guys prepared for life after high school.”

Rountree said Knight will also bring loyalty as a Lakeland graduate.

“We know he’s going to be there for the long haul, no matter what,” Rountree said.

Knight’s responsibilities as football coach have already begun.

During his time as a student-athlete at Lakeland, he was also a track star, winning the state championship in the 300-meter dash. He also produced the second-best time in the country in the 55-meter dash and earned All-American honors as a member of the 4×200-meter relay team.

On the wall at Lakeland, he is still listed as holding school records in the 100-meter dash (10.53 seconds) and the 200-meter dash (21.64 seconds).

Knight got a football scholarship from the University of North Carolina, where he played from 1999 to 2002 as a defensive back and kick returner. Out of a class of 24 high school signees, he was one of only four to play as a true freshman.

After college, he was signed as a free agent by the New York Jets and later by the St. Louis Rams.