- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Demetrius Knox first experienced AT&T Stadium at All Saints Episcopal. He started for the Fort Worth, Texas, high school as a freshman.
“Our coach was like, ‘Don’t get caught looking at the big screen,’” Knox said, “but Cowboys Stadium is pretty big.”
Knox will return to the stadium Dec. 29 when No. 5 Ohio State (11-2) play No. 8 Southern California (11-2) in the Cotton Bowl. Knox is an Ohio native who lived in Springfield until moving to Texas in the seventh grade. He has numerous friends and family members back in Texas.
“All my people are right there,” Knox said.
This will be a special homecoming because Knox worked for four years to get a starting role and has made the most of it. He took Branden Bowen’s place in the lineup when Bowen broke his leg at Maryland on Oct. 7.
Knox lost the fight to start, a position battle that lasted until the final week of preseason practices, in the summer. He redshirted in 2014, earning playing time on special teams in 2015 and was slowed by a foot injury in 2016. This was going to be his best chance to start, and it wouldn’t have happened if not for Bowen’s injury.
“Everybody wants to be the guy,” Knox said. “You’re the guy in high school. You come here. You’re a four or five star. You’re a big guy on campus. Then you get here and you realize everybody is a four or five star. It’s not just, ‘Oh snap, it should have been me.’ It’s, ‘What could I have done better?’”
Knox played behind Pat Elflein and Billy Price in his first seasons. Those two players won the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center the last two seasons.
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“Of course, it’s fight, fight, fight, but you’ve got some dogs in front of you,” Knox said. “You’re a puppy and you’ve got to wait your turn.”
Giving up crosses the mind of all young players, Knox said. Coach Urban Meyer combats that by constantly reminding players, “It’s never too late.” Every year, players who have waited three or four seasons for a chance finally get an opportunity to play.
“This is my fourth year, and I’m coming back next year,” Knox said. “I’m finally getting my start, and next year hopefully we’ll go from there and and get another start under your belt.”
Knox credited Price for helping him get ready for this chance.
“From day one, Billy’s been my big brother,” Knox said. “He’s the strongest guy on the team, whether it be the weight room, the meeting room or on the field. If I’ve got something I need to pick up on and let’s say coach (Greg Studrawa’s) coaching someone else, I can look to look to my left at Billy.”
Notes: Knox earned a degree in sport and industry on Sunday. He was one of nine Ohio State football players to graduate. The others were: Marcus Baugh (criminology); Sam Hubbard (finance); Jamarco Jones (family resource management); Terry McLaurin (communications); Damon Webb (sport and industry); Chris Worley (communications); Elijaah Goins (pharmacy); and Zach Turnure (communications).
Five other players on the roster have already graduated: J.T. Barrett; Price; Tyquan Lewis; Tracy Sprinkle; and Michael Hill.