THIBODAUX — Texas A&M needed a quarterback. Trevor Knight needed a place to play.
Some might call it a match made in heaven. Knight prefers the term “a perfect fit,” which he said was the only thing that would draw him away from finishing his college career at Oklahoma. But after four years as a Sooner, becoming an Aggie sounded pretty darn perfect to Knight.
The rising senior quarterback transferred to Texas A&M in early January, just four days after Clemson defeated Oklahoma in the College Football Playoffs semifinals. The Sooners made it that far thanks largely to former transfer walk-on Baker Mayfield, who usurped Knight as starting quarterback before last season began.
But now, Knight is a starter once more. Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin named him such the Monday after spring training concluded, fulfilling expectations the graduate transfer had set for himself.
Because he graduated in December, Knight can play for Texas A&M immediately, rather than wait the normal one year before being eligible.
“I felt like I had an opportunity to go play somewhere. I felt like I could go play somewhere,” Knight said at the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State here Friday. “I missed playing, honestly. … And then there were some things that happened at Texas A&M that opened the door for me to go there. It was the perfect situation that I was a looking for.”
The opportunity stemmed from the departures of Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, two highly touted quarterbacks who opted to leave College Station, Texas, within a week of each other last December. That left rising junior Jake Hubenak as Sumlin’s only viable option at the position.
So Knight stepped into a mostly vacant quarterback room and earned the starting nod from Sumlin, a development he said “kind of hit me out of nowhere.”
The guy who took Knight’s old job wasn’t as surprised.
“There’s a reason he got named the starter before they even started real football,” Mayfield said. “The type of leadership he brings to a team, he comes in there and takes control. He’s such a genuine guy. When he talks, you realize he’s being real. He just has a way that when he talks, people listen. You’ve got to respect that.”
Knight flashed that leadership at Oklahoma, especially early in his career. His sophomore season culminated with arguably the best performance of his life, a huge 45-31 upset of then-No. 3 Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder connected on 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns en route to Sugar Bowl MVP honors. But when reminded Friday of that impressive outing, Knight briefly spoke about the team’s play rather than his own.
He was less effective in 2014 before missing the final three regular-season games with a head injury. Mayfield soon overtook the San Antonio native, who threw only 40 times in 2015.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business management in December, Knight met with Sooners coach Bob Stoops to “put out feelers” in search of his perfect fit. Knight soon came into contact with Sumlin, a former Stoops assistant at Oklahoma, and found his new home.
“We’re talking about things, talking about ideas we’re looking for,” Knight said of his relationship with Sumlin. “So it’s like I’ve been there for four years, but I’ve only been there for a semester.”
Knight brings more than 4,200 total yards and 33 total touchdowns to College Station. Knight, along with new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, hopes to resolve the Aggies’ offensive quagmire that turned a once-promising 2015 campaign into an 8-5 finish.
They’ll have five of the top six receivers back from last year’s team, missing only graduating running back Tra Carson.
“You’ve got guys like Christian Kirk, who was a Freshman All-American, and guys who are returning like Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones; those types of guys who are going to make a bunch of plays for us,” Knight said. “I talked about moving into a perfect situation for my senior year, and it’s not a bad deal when you’re walking into a receiver group like that.”
Knight’s initial audition with that group went smoothly: he completed 25 of 36 passes for 282 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding a rushing score in Texas A&M’s spring game.
Their first true test will come Sept. 3 against UCLA and Josh Rosen, who also served as a camp counselor at this year’s MPA. Starting then, Knight will know for sure if Texas A&M was a perfect fit for him after all.
But for now, he couldn’t be any happier with his decision.
“I came in, went through spring ball and got named the starter,” Knight said. “It’s all worked out exactly like I’d hoped it would.”