Why Did Jaylan Knighton Transfer to SMU?

    Jaylan Knighton has ran with redemption at SMU. But why did the former four-star transfer to the Dallas university?

    For a school that prides itself on building its roster from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and outward, the SMU Mustangs scored a big-time get out of the Sunshine State in the form of Florida native and running back Jaylan Knighton.

    Since his arrival, Knighton has proven to be a dynamic player in the backfield for the Mustangs. Knighton, however, has Miami and a past Hurricanes coach to thank for showing up to “The Hilltop.”

    Why Did Jaylan Knighton Transfer to SMU?

    Knighton came to the Mustangs as a transfer portal addition via the Miami Hurricanes.

    While at “The U,” Knighton played in a total of 27 contests, including 12 starts across three seasons. He accumulated 1,193 rushing yards, averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and scored 10 times for the ‘Canes. He also brought some versatility out of the backfield by catching 40 passes for 497 yards and four scores.

    That production occurred when SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee was the Hurricane’s offensive coordinator.

    Knighton was once considered a pivotal four-star signing who was the state of Florida’s sixth-ranked RB and the nation’s 22nd overall prospect by Rivals. In addition to Rivals, 247Sports listed the Deerfield Beach High standout as a four-star and ranked him as the country’s 10th-best all-purpose RB for the 2020 class.

    Still, Knighton had difficulty separating himself as the lead back in the “305.”

    He ended up losing some of his carries to Henry Parrish, who came to Miami via Ole Miss. Knighton also ruffled some feathers among the ‘Canes fan base for his fumbling habit. He coughed up the football six times in 2022 and lost it thrice. The rusher then dealt with a benching against Virginia. He was even hit with the injury bug while in the Miami backfield.

    But by transferring to SMU, he has reunited with his previous offensive coordinator in an effort to revitalize his career.

    Has Knighton Witnessed a Career Revival With Rhett Lashlee?

    The 2023 season is set to see Knighton reach career-high levels of success.

    In his last three seasons, the Florida native has produced a single 100-yard game. However, in his reunion with Lashlee, the 5’10”, 200-pound back showed signs of promise early on, putting together higher yardage numbers through the first four games of the season than his South Florida days.

    Here’s a look at his first four games over the past four seasons:

    • 2020 season: 96 yards and one touchdown through the first four games
    • 2021 campaign: 299 yards in the first four contests with four touchdowns (eight total touchdowns in this season)
    • 2022 season: 110 yards and zero trips past the goal line
    • 2023 season: 373 total yards, two touchdowns

    At that pace, Knighton is set up for success at SMU and could be due for his first-ever 1,000-yard season at the collegiate level.

    He’s found sunnier gridiron pastures in his move away from his home state, and he’s got one more year of eligibility left after the 2023 season, which could mean putting together the numbers he was anticipated to put up the first time he linked up with Lashlee.

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