Georgia Tech defensive end coach Larry Knight takes questions during a media session at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Knight brings local ties to Collins’ defensive staff

When his phone rang with the opportunity to join Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech, Larry Knight jumped at the opportunity.

“I was very excited, but I don’t think more excited than my family,” said Knight, who will coach defensive ends and outside linebackers for the Yellow Jackets. “My parents, grandparents, whole family were probably more excited than me. This has always been a dream opportunity.”

Knight grew up in Augusta, where he attended Glenn Hills High School. After college, he worked for the defensive staff at Tennessee as a quality-control assistant, and then returned to Georgia to coach outside linebackers at Georgia State. The Panthers’ defense gave up 14 less points per game in his first season on the staff than it did the previous season. 

After two years in Atlanta, Knight moved to Temple under Collins, again as a quality-control assistant. He was promoted twice, eventually landing as the outside linebacker coach. Knight’s knowledge of metro Atlanta made him an ideal assistant coach for Collins after his move to Tech. The fit was all too perfect.

“Working in the city in the past (at Georgia State), you ride by here quite a bit. I look up and see Georgia Tech, and it’s like, man, this was one of those places I was always striving to be,” Knight said. “To be able to earn the opportunity to do it, it’s a dream come true.”

As the defensive recruiting coordinator, Knight plans to bolster Tech’s defense by mining the prolific Georgia high school system for talent. To him, there’s no better place to be.

“Now, I might be biased because I grew up in Georgia, but some of the best football that’s being played in the country is being played here,” Knight said.

Knight said he will be tasked with recruiting throughout the South, but also looks forward to spending time recruiting near Washington, D.C. and Virginia, a ground he covered at Temple. Knight didn’t recruit Atlanta while he was at Georgia State, but he did while at Temple, specifically in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. He believes that he can recruit anywhere.

“I’m a fish, man. You put me in the water, I swim. I can go into a new area and recruit. It’s just about relationships and being genuine with people,” Knight said.

It’s sink-or-swim time now for Tech in its massive upheaval after the departure of Paul Johnson. Larry Knight is just one piece of the puzzle, but he is one that fits in perfectly to the dynamic atmosphere that is Atlanta.

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