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Former Trojan Joe McKnight Had Chance To Play Cornerback For The Chiefs

This example once again proves the rule that the NFL is both exciting and cruel for some of the most exciting former Trojans.

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As one of USC's most exciting players during the later stages of Pete Carroll's reign back from 2007-2009, 26-year-old River Ridge, Louisiana native Joe McKnight was in the midst of possibly his final chance to make an impact in the National Football League after sitting out all of last season with the New York Jets.

McKnight certainly dazzled in the Coliseum back in the day, finishing out his USC career with 2,213 rushing yards and over 500 receiving yards. Add to that by the fact that he accomplished 10 career games with at least 100 all-purpose yards and rushed for over 100 yards in seven games, McKnight showed some nice flashes towards future success.

But after struggling to find a niche with the New York Jets, outside of that memorable 107-yard return, the Chiefs were offering Joe McKnight an opportunity to play on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. Before just being placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) Monday, McKnight chatted with our esteemed SB Nation friends at Arrowhead Pride to discuss his future in the National Football League.

Q: You mentioned the physical grind, but what about emotionally. Are you in a better place these days?

McKnight: Emotionally, I'm in a better place than I was in previous years. It's really about just being focused and staying around positive people. I mean, I was in a dark place after the injury and everything. Luckily I had some very positive people around me. They got me out of it and just told me to stay with it. They believed in my abilities and everything and I just stuck with it.

Q: Did you have a moment where you thought your career was over?

McKnight: Yeah, I thought my career was over after a couple weeks after the season when I was getting any calls or anything. I just figured it was over. I was actually going to start looking for a job [Laughs], but then I got the call from coach EB [Eric Bieniemy] and my agent telling me I got a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then I'm back on it.

Q: Yeah, were you surprised when you were asked to play reps at corner? I know you had that experience in your past, but when Coach Ryan asks you to play--

McKnight: Oh yeah, I was pretty surprised. But Coach Ryan always had me as the scout team cornerback, so when I showed him I could play it, he was telling me I could make the move to corner. He was the first coach in the league who told me I could do that if I wanted. But I'm already in the league as a running back. I want to establish myself here first and think about that afterward.

Q: How does the competition feel for returner at this point?

McKnight: Oh, it's a good competition. We've got DeAnthony. Then Knile did a great job last year. I was the one who was out all last year, so I've got to start all over again and work myself back up.

Cheers to those good old days back in the Coliseum!