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NFL Draft

Ricky Person, Zonovan Knight Could Soon Be CFB’s Best RB Tandum

  • The Draft Network
  • September 8, 2021
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Dominant in its season opener against South Florida, N.C. State couldn’t have asked for a better kick-start to their campaign. The Wolfpack swarmed the Bulls on defense, where late in the first half USF signal-caller Cade Fortin had totaled a negative amount of passing yards. Dave Doeren’s unit was as prepared as a unit could be in Week 1, but the true story lied on the opposite side of the ball. 

Both totaling 16 carries a piece, Ricky Person and Bam Knight could soon represent not just the ACC’s top tandem at running back, but the top pair in all of college football.

Just last fall we saw the duo of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter dominate the nation as college football’s top 1-2 punch behind Sam Howell in Chapel Hill, combining for 2,385 rushing yards and 33 total touchdowns. With both former Tar Heel backs now in the NFL, Williams with the Broncos and Carter with the Jets, Knight and Person have all the makings of the next tandem in line to dominate with Devin Leary leading the high-flying Wolfpack offense.

Person got the ball rolling in the first half, earning the bulk of the carries in the opening stanza to the tune of 100-plus yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns to put the Wolfpack out to a massive lead they never relinquished on their way to a 45-point shutout victory. A junior from nearby Wake Forest, N.C., Person's start at NC State was one where his path to snaps seemed muddy for his first two seasons on campus. After missing a total of nine games in freshman and sophomore seasons, Person’s arrival provided a jolt of pop into the Wolfpack backfield last fall, starting in each matchup amassing 643 yards and four touchdowns. Nothing to write home about, but the 4-star recruit hasn’t been able to stay on the gridiron for an extended period of time, a trend that looks to change alongside Knight.

Zonovan Knight, better well known as “Bam,” is the Batman to Person’s Robin. The bellcow, the workhorse, Knight captains the Wolfpack running game like a lead dog in a sled race. He’s confident, stout, productive, and looked upon to lead each and every time he straps up. But, every captain needs a co-captain, and to be a leader you must first learn to follow, exactly why he and Person could progress into football’s most dynamic backfield tandem as the season runs on, if all comes to fruition.

Each with their own individual skill sets, similar to that of Williams and Carter, the two backs present a bevy of traits to prepare for as an opposing defensive coordinator. While Person, at least for this week, took the backseat to Knight as the de facto RB1 in the ground game, his totals as a wideout trumped Knight’s by a large margin, recording 43 receiving yards to Knight’s 16, including a touchdown catch. 

For many, college football’s top backfield sits in the hands of Oregon’s C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye. With more than 4,000 career rushing yards between the two, it’s difficult to relinquish their crown after just a week of play. But, if Knight and Person are able to replicate anything similar to their performance against South Florida this past weekend, a leapfrog of the veteran unit in Eugene could be imminent.

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