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Firebirds star Knight leaving NC State early

Posted on January 2, 2022

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N.C. State running back Zonovan Knight is shown carrying the ball in an image from the university’s athletic department. Knight has announced plans to declare for the NFL draft in the spring.

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N.C. State running back Zonovan Knight is shown carrying the ball in an image from the university’s athletic department. Knight has announced plans to declare for the NFL draft in the spring.

Zonovan Knight graduated early from Southern Nash High three years ago to enroll at North Carolina State University, and now the running back/kick returner is leaving college early. Knight announced via his Twitter account Thursday that he would leave college to declare for the NFL draft next spring.

In his statement, Knight thanked the Wolfpack fans for their love and support that “has been nothing but elite.”

Knight went on to write: “There’s no doubt that I would not be where I am today with the support of my coaches and teammates. I want to especially thank (head) Coach (Dave) Doeren, (running backs) Coach (Kurt) Roper, Coach Thunder (strength and conditioning coach Dantonio Burnette), (special teams) Coach (Todd) Goebbel and the rest of the coaching staff for always guiding me and molding me into the man I am today. I can honestly say that they’ve helped me become a better player as well as a better person. Best of all, they’ve always believed in me and were willing to take a chance on me.

“The memories and relationships that I’ve created with my teammates will be something that I take forward with me forever. The culture that we’ve built here is truly something special. Together we’ve accomplished so much and I am so blessed to have been a part of it. Last and most importantly, I want to thank my family, especially my mom for always loving and supporting me.”

Knight left Southern Nash as the career rushing leader with 5, 073 yards (12.5 per-carry average) when he graduated in December 2018. His decision to leave high school early proved to be a good one. Knight earned the North Carolina team’s Offensive MVP in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, an early glimpse of what was to come.

He started seven games as a true freshman in 2019, running for 745 yards, and was named the Wolfpack’s offensive MVP. As a sophomore, Knight again led the Wolfpack with 788 yards and landed on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference third team.

Knight was the top rusher again this season with 753 yards (5.4 per carry) but achieved national acclaim as a kick returner. He averaged 34.4 yards per kickoff return and took two back for touchdowns. His three career kickoff-return TDs are an N.C. State first.

Knight earned first-team All-ACC and All-America (CBS Sports) as a kick returner.

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