Former UNH, Nashua South quarterback helping local athletes
The quarterback is now a Quarterback Whisperer.
Former University of New Hampshire and Nashua South – as well as Canadian Football League signal caller – Trevor Knight still is a talented quarterback, but right now, he’s a renowned QB guru who local high school athletes swear by.
It grew from one inquiry from a young player some 18 months ago to a showcase event last month that had 55 players strutting their stuff. It’s something Knight never envisioned a couple of years ago.
“Honestly, no,” he said. “It’s pretty crazy. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of it.”
How did this all start? It began when Knight was preparing for the possibility of being taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, or at least being signed by a CFL team. Nothing panned out, but he was training, still working out, but he needed work. Some type of way to make him a little extra money.
Lo and behold, a Bedford parent connected through a friend hit him up, asking if he’d help out his son, Joe Mikol, who was a young player getting ready to compete for the Bulldogs.
So Knight dipped into the world of QB tutelage, with Mikol and a couple of others.
When Knight came back after his Grey Cup winning stint as a reserve with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and everyone was stuck inside due to COVID, he got some more calls. Then, when the summer came, fields were available, sports were returning locally, “it kind of blew up.” Knight was getting requests from not only New Hampshire players, but Massachusetts as well.
And a business known as TK QB Academy was born.
“It’s kind of taken off,” said Knight, who at UNH had a stellar career until injuries ruined his senior season. “It’s still my priority to play and I’m trying to make that happen. But as I’m doing that, I work out for three hours a day. The rest of my day I’ll coach a couple of kids up, or have group sessions. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Did Knight ever think he would become some type of coach?
“I always thought I didn’t want to leave the game of football after I was done playing,” he said. “Right now, I’d definitely rather be playing and leave the coaching til later. But right now, it’s just a great opportunity to help some of these guys out and have a small business. It keeps me from getting a regular job.
“But, I think in the future, I think it could be definitely something that’s in the cards. I’ve always thought about college coaching when I was in college, just because I loved watching film, etc. I just love everything about the game.”
Indeed, it’s Knight’s passion. Thus it started with one, and right now he has about 30 to 40 players that he works with, and about 12 of them are regulars, perhaps as many as three or four days a week. “That group has become really, really tight,” Knight said.
Overall, since it began? Knight says his client/pupil list over time is about 60.
Once Knight began doing it, it felt natural.
“I wasn’t sure where to start,” he said. “Being from New Hampshire, it was different. It wasn’t like you’re in southern California, when you have 40,000 quarterback coaches in the area. When I was growing up, I learned from my Dad (South varisty coach Scott Knight) and that was it. I’d go around to camps and pick stuff up. But really, it was all natural.”
So Knight tries to convince his pupils to be as natural as possible.
“Really to be able to see and dissect throwing motions, and guys using their hips and stuff, it’s actually become a lot of fun for me,” Knight said. “I’ll get home from a throwing session, and watch slow motion videos of these kids throwing for about an hour after, picking up the littlest things. For me it’s a lot of fun.”
Knight will tape some reps of the sessions, and side-by-side videos to chart progress and show the student on a monthly basis. “It’s ‘Did you get better this month, and what do we need to work on’. Try to get as good feel as possible.”
Knight envisions that quarterback work is 12 months out of the year, so there’s a reason why his training can be so valuable. “You have to be working on your quarterback craft every week, I think,” he said.
When Knight began working with these athletes, what are some of the things they didn’t realize?
“They didn’t realize it’s all in the feet,” he said. “You’ve got to start from the ground up. A lot of these guys want to throw the ball further, and they’re throwing their arms out. They’re not using their hips. Their bottom half is completely out of the throw.
“That’s the biggest thing I find with young kids and New Hampshire high school quarterbacks. A lot of them don’t use their hips enough or use them efficiently enough. That’s the thing I see first.”
Another thing Knight notices are arm paths, how a player brings the arm up over the shoulder. “There’s kind of specific way that’s most efficient,” he said. “It’s kind of a way most people don’t know, certain things that can make you more efficient.”
Mikol moved up the ranks at Bedford High School, being a solid player as a sophomore on varsity this past fall. Some saw that and that helped Knight get more inquiries. Of course, it didn’t hurt he had a state championship quarterback as one of his best clients, Souhegan senior QB Austin Jain.
Jain, who came into his own this season with the Division II champion Sabers, gives a lot of the credit to his improvement to Knight.
“He’s actually been a big mentor for me,” Jain said. “Helped me come a long way, especially in developing my quarterback abilities and everything. He’s100 percent.”
“This spring and summer, a lot of the kids started reaching out to me about this and that,” Knight said. “So I said, ‘Why don’t you just come down to Amherst or Nashua or whenever we’re throwing that day, and come toss it around. I ended up coaching kids all over the state.”
Knight even went out to the seacoast, and was working with Dover junior Darian Lopez-Sullivan. “Darian reminds me of a little bit of myself,” Knight said. “A really good athlete but just not that advanced mechanically. Those are the best to dive into. You can see crazy improvements in his playing, his season. Just little things and you see it come up in games.”
Jain, his younger brother, Merrimack QB Kyle Crampton, former BG QB Hayden Moses are all TK QB Academy students. All speak glowingly. And all, in Knight’s view, have improved dramatically.
“It’s funny, all these kids work out together and know each other now,” he said. “After every game, I could go and take a picture with like 10 guys on the field. It makes it fun for everyone.”
A DAY AT THE
What’s a typical session or stretch of sessions like?
“I try not to throw too much at them on the first day,” Knight said. “First thing I do is get a couple of slow motion videos of them throwing, and a couple of regular videos of them throwing.”
Knight wants to keep them calm, natural, “and then from there really start attacking the details. If there’s something really glaring, I’ll coach it up, but mainly I just let them rock. Try and let them get comfortable with the group.”
The first 20 minutes are mechanics, setting feet to the target, something Knight sees quarterbacks even in the NFL struggle with. There’s also work with off-balance throws. Knight will watch NFL films and tally up how many throws are actually made in the pocket with no pressure. The results may surprise you.
“It’s really not that many, you have to throw off your back foot, throw on the run,” he said. “Some of the great quarterbacks in the league. Tom Brady is obviously the staple for great mechanics and pocket presence. But there’s guys like Mahomes, Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson who are changing the way they play the game with the off balance throws, the sideline throws.”
So Knight will work to instill that in some of his students, too, espcially the high school players who, at that level, won’t have great offensive lines.
“If I can teach these guys how to do those things (improvise), they’ll be that much better,” he said.
Knight will send them videos, and even videos of himself. He’ll tape them mid session, and in a group session he’ll get with each player for about 30 seconds during a break and give them a couple of quick tips. Knight may actually have to get a second cell phone because videos have taken up so much storage space on his regular one.
Sessions are anywhere from an hour to hour and 20 minutes. It usually depends on weather if it’s an outside session.
“You don’t want them thinking about the conditions too much,” he said, but noted that he does have them work outside in the cold since they’ll have to in games in this part of the country.”
Knight not only works on the physical part of the game but also the mental.
“He’s taught me the whole mindset of being a quarterback,” Jain said. “Being comfortable with myself and being more confident. He developed me on the field.
From going to my form of throwing, to everything up here (pointing to his head), he’s 100 percent, helping my (QB) IQ and everything.”
And that included college players who have had their seasons shift from the fall to the early spring due to COVID. South alum Sean Holland, now at Fordham, was one of those who worked with Knight the last few months.
Knight will use whatever venues he can for his lessons. If it’s a player out of the area, he’ll go to them, and it won’t matter whether a field is turf or grass. He’s used Souhegan High School, among other places, as he’s from Amherst.
“I have a really good relationship with a lot of coaches around,” he said, “and they’ll help me out.”
He’ll try to recruit receivers or ask the QBs to bring a receiver friend for full speed routs. “I like them to be with the guys they’re going to be throwing to (in games) on Friday nights or Saturdays,” he said, adding that some of the UNH receivers have also come.
During the winter, Knight has used the Derry Sports Center, plus New England Strength and Performance in Lowell. So indoor sessions are definitely an option. He’s made arrangements with those venues, etc. with the players paying a small daily fee. “People have been really good towards us,” he said. “We’ve been really lucky.”
Knight’s business has grown so much that this past summer he made an LLC. And he does all his accounting, etc.
“You wouldn’t think a football guy would know how to do that,” he joked.
For his two-hour group sessions, he will charge a flat fee per kid, and he keeps the group to about 10-12. Others he’ll have four to six. And he will charge more for one-on-one private sessions that he will hold at night, usually with younger players. Those last about an hour 15.
“If I kept doing this, I think in about five years or so it could be pretty big,” he said, noting that this summer he even had to hire some help.
The high point in the early days of Knight’s venture came a month ago, when he held a quarterback/receiver showcase at Hampshire Hills in Milford.
He wanted to get some interest from prep schools and colleges in some of his older players, especially Jain. When he found out it would be fairly expensive to rent the Dome, he figured the more the merrier.
“I figured I may as well do a little camp,” he said. “Quarterbacks, and I opened it up to receivers.”
And about 55 players took part, and if colleges couldn’t come due to it being a recruiting dead period, recruiting companies did. It was a success.
What has Knight learned from all this about himself? Basically he discovered a skill he thought he might have, but never knew for sure.
“I think I’ve just learned I can kind of relate to these guys much better than some other people,” he said. “I’ve felt doubted before. A kid from New Hampshire, as far as recruiting goes, I felt I was really under recruited.
“I can relate that I want to be great, but I’m really not sure how to be great. I kind of learned where my mindset comes from. If I’m going to coach you, I’m going to coach you 1,000 percent. And same when I play. I’m not going to go into a game and not leave it out on the field.”
So Knight found “I can carry that into business as well. Refuse to be denied, that kind of mentality.” He wanted to make sure that attitude would help him get the attention of his pupils, and he could carry that mentality “into other things in life, not just sports. I think that’s really big for me.”
And now the next step for Knight, besides keeping up his business, would be playing. He feels with his workouts, etc. he is a better quarterback now, and in better shape, than a year ago. He had a workout with Toronto of the CFL all scheduled, but it got cut by COVID.
He is hoping the XFL returns as has been reported, a year from now.Remember, his senior season injuries – shoulder and hamstring – hurt his marketability.
“I’m 100 percent back and better than I was,” he said, noting he gets frustrated seeing bad backup QBs come into NFL games and playing poorly, knowing he could do the job. “So it’s a matter of getting seen by people. Running a 40 yard dash in front of people. … I don’t think it’s that out of the question. There are much crazier stories.”
The perfect world would be for Knight to have a playing career, have his business in the off-season and then he’d have a post-career business.
Knight is certainly stunned by the TK QB Academy success, but right now, he’s not even sure how much more growth he can handle. He’s starting to think he’d rather “dive deeper into these kids I’m training now.”
Knight feels it’s almost his calling.
“I almost feel like I owe it to these kids to be there for them and be able to teach them,” he said. “I’m here, I have the information. They all want it. I almost feel like it’s my duty to serve them.”