The search is over; Jeff Knox Jr. has found his home on the football field.
The Riders linebacker recorded his 100th tackle against the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday.
“I never could have imagined,” Knox said about reaching the milestone in his rookie season.
“It means a lot. It’s 100 tackles for a rookie. I know that’s not accomplished every day, it means a lot to me.”
Only two other players since 1991 – when the CFL started recording defensive tackles separately from special teams tackles – have reached 100 tackles as rookies. Two other players have done it in their first year in the CFL but previous NFL experience disqualified Calvin Tiggle and Zeke Moreno as rookies.
Even in Rider history, Knox is now in an exclusive club. The 23-year-old is just the sixth Rider to reach the mark. The last time a Rider reached the century club in tackles was Jerrell Freeman in 2011.
If all of this isn’t impressive enough, Knox hasn’t been playing linebacker his whole career either. Most of his football life before this year was spent at running back or safety.
Now, Knox feels like the search is over. He knows where he belongs on the field.
“No doubt, I like it. It’s closer to the box. (I) get to play with some linemen a little bit. So, it’s a good thing, I think it’s a nice home for me now,” he said.
While Knox has already made some Rider history this year, he has a chance for more over the last two games of the season.
Should Knox register just five more tackles, he’ll set a new team record with 106 on the season. The record of 105 is currently shared by George White, Barrin Simpson and Freeman.
Knox also needs 15 more tackles to set a new CFL rookie record for tackles in a season. That record was set by Simpson in 2001 as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“I can’t say enough about Jeff Knox,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“For him to progress like he has is just outstanding. He’s fought through injury. Being a 23-year-old playing 18 games isn’t an easy thing to do when you’ve only played 11 or 12 in college. He’s battled and made a lot of plays. Does he have room to get better? Without a doubt.”
One of those areas Knox could improve is his tackles for loss. Even though he’s been the team’s primary run stopper this season, he hasn’t been able to take down many players in the backfield.
However, Knox has proven to be versatile throughout this season playing at both middle and weak-side linebacker.
The league is continuing to work toward getting official defensive tackle numbers for players between 1987 and 1991.