TYRONE, Ga. -- Much of the recent reporting from Sandy Creek (Ga.) High School has referenced skill players like cornerback Shaq Wiggins, quarterback Cole Garvin and wide receiver Demarre Kitt. But just as in college and the NFL, the success the Patriots have seen starts on the lines. Which for Sandy Creek means it starts with offensive tackle Alan Knott.
Knott is committed to South Carolina, having picked the Gamecocks over Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina, among others. In his last playoff game against a stingy Burke County (Ga.) High School defense, his Patriots were in an unfamiliar position: trailing after the third quarter.
“We were down and it was kind of nerve-racking right there for a little bit but we persevered through it,” Knott said. “We got Eric Swinney running that football and we made some adjustments on the line.”
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound senior normally lines up at left tackle, but switched to right tackle. Knott and the line gave Garvin enough time to complete a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kitt that gave the Patriots the lead. Then, running behind Knott, the offense started to move the ball on the ground as well.
“I knew it was coming down to me and I knew I had to get that block in,” Knott said. “I took that guy out of the play and we kept charging down the field. We finally scored and got back up on top. The way their defense is set up, they were just going underneath and I couldn’t get under him. But after we switched it over and made some different play calls, that helped us out and we started moving the ball.”
With just over five minutes left in the game, Swinney scored on a 38-yard run off of Knott’s hip. Burke County would not score again, falling 31-20 to the Patriots. Sandy Creek will face Monroe Area (Ga.) High School on Friday night in the state semifinals. Knott wants to graduate as a state champion, but he also wants to take some of his teammates with him to South Carolina -- including one that is committed to Georgia.
“Knott tells me every day, ‘You would look good in that Under Armour Gamecock jersey,’” Wiggins said. “He talks about the coaches and how they talk to him. They ask him, ‘How is your boy Shaq doing? Is he going to come up here and play? He will start right away’ and things like that. His dad also says good things about South Carolina. Every trip that I have been to South Carolina I have been with Knott.”
Knott is as relentless a recruiter as he is a blocker. He has laid out a strong sales pitch to Wiggins and Kitt.
“Shaq already knows,” Knott said. “We are working on him pretty hard there. And the thing with Demarre Kitt is, you cannot tell what he is thinking at any given time so Demarre is iffy -- we have to work on him. I tell Shaq that he is going to play. If he gets up there he is going to play because we are a little thin on some cornerbacks. He is going to love Columbia. Columbia is by far one of the better college towns I have been to.
“The coaches ask me, ‘How is the recruitment going on old Shaq there?’ I think if we could pull Shaq in, we could get possibly get Demarre to switch his mind. That would be a dynasty.”