Nick Saban has done awesome things on the recruiting trail at the University of Alabama.
He has knocked down athletes from rival schools, proposed international players and could have Dr. Kirkpatrick’s son play for him in a few years.
However, those aspects are pale compared to the Crimson Tide having almost an Olympian.
Erriyon Knighton was offered a scholarship to Alabama for the class of 2022. As a native of Tampa, Florida, he was a very talented football and track star at Hillsborough High School. Knighton played quarterback, wide receiver, running back and safety. By studying his Highlight Strip, he possessed the ball skills, speed, hands, tackling abilities, football intelligence, and explosiveness to play on offense or defense.
The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder would have been a catcher, cornerback, or safety for the Tide.
His skills would have suited Alabama perfectly, and Saban would continue his success in recruiting from the state of Florida. Knighton recognized that his calling was in the 100 and 200 yards during his first year in 2019.
He set the second-fastest 200-meter time for an under-18 athlete in world history, clocking 20.23 seconds in the final at the 2020 US Junior Track and Field Games. .
When he saw his potential, Knighton decided to give up his last two years of high school and turn pro.
He signed a sponsorship in January with Adidas at 16 and hasn’t looked back. He broke the 10-second mark in the 100-meter race at the PURE Athletics Sprint Elite competition on May 2 in Clermont, Fla. Knighton clocked 9.9 seconds in the event, but did something bigger on May 31.
The 17-year-old established the world’s best under-18 ranking in the men’s 200 meters, clocking 20.11 seconds.
Last week, Knighton clocked 20.04 seconds in the 200-meter at the US Olympic Trials. He then clocked 19.88 seconds in the semi-finals, breaking the Under-20 record held by legendary Usain Bolt. Knighton also beat Noah Lyles, a 23-year-old world champion, in this event. Lyles won the athletics world championship in 2019 for the 200 meters.
A young man with that kind of acceleration once considered football in Alabama as an option.
After seeing what Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle did, one could imagine the records Knighton would have set had he continued with football.
He holds the under-18 and under-20 world records in the 200 meters.
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Stephen M. Smith is Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of Alabama Magazine. You can “like” it on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.