NORMAN — A couple nights before Oklahoma's spring game in April, Trevor Knight and his dad spoke by telephone for about an hour and a half.
The father and son talked about life, faith, football and, of course, the intense quarterback competition that raged on through spring practices — and still continues more than a week into fall camp.
Knight, a redshirt freshman, was the youngest and least experienced of Oklahoma's quarterback candidates, behind junior Blake Bell and sophomore Kendal Thompson, but that night, he told his dad the full story of his transition in high school from a timid underclassman to a staunch, uncompromising leader.
Thompson broke his foot the first day of fall camp, leaving a two-man battle. Although Bell remains the favorite, Knight hasn't let up, displaying toughness and drive throughout a competition many assumed would be over by now. The leadership he developed during a trying junior year at San Antonio's Ronald Reagan High School continues to shape him today.
When Knight was a high-school freshman, he was called up to the varsity squad for its playoff games. He noticed that after the team ran through its inflatable tunnel and onto the field in pregame, many upperclassmen huddled at midfield and shouted profanity about their opponent.
The language shook — and shocked — the very religious Knight, but he wasn't in any position to do anything about it.
He became the starting quarterback as a sophomore, but still didn't feel comfortable standing up to what he saw as ugly, unnecessary vitriol.
So when Knight returned for his junior year, he decided it was time to facilitate change. He stayed on the field after pregame warm-ups, waited for the team to arrive at midfield and led everyone in a pregame prayer.
“It caused some dissension in the ranks,” remembered his dad, George Knight. “I can remember seeing a few guys who would drag their feet and get to the prayer gathering about the time it ended.”
In addition to the locker-room unease, Reagan suffered a few injuries, resulting in a four-game losing streak to end the regular season that cost it a playoff spot.
“He had to really turn up the notch as a leader and really, the whole offseason, the whole summer strength and conditioning time, he became the guy,” said Reagan coach David Wetzel. “He could stand up in front of everybody. He started leading prayer, doing the talking, being the rallying, motivating guy.”
The same problems didn't exist Knight's senior year, when Reagan won its district title and finished with a 12-2 record.
On that April phone call, Trevor Knight told his dad, “When it came to the senior year and the guys were all in with me, and we were all on the same page, and we knew we had each others' backs, we could go up against anybody.”