However, Knight believed at the beginning of preseason practice that he had a legitimate chance to win the job.
“Coach (Josh) Heupel has said from the beginning that it’s an open competition,” he said. “Even if it wasn’t an open competition, he still wants us to prepare every day like we’re the starter. So, I take every day like I’m the starter and go out and compete the best I can.”
Teammates have raved about Knight since he arrived on campus last year. He was a four-star recruit from San Antonio’s Reagan High School but spent last year running the scout team.
Knight’s stock soared when OU started preparing to face Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Knight was able to replicate Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
The Texas A&M quarterback shredded the Sooners in the bowl game. Employing a quarterback who could run as well as throw became a priority for the Sooners in the aftermath.
According to teammates, Knight has that kind of ability.
“He’s the most athletic of the three. He puts up crazy numbers in the weight room with the agility and speed stuff. It probably has a lot to do with it,” OU center Gabe Ikard said last month at Big 12 Media Days. “He’s very good at throwing on the run. He makes quick decisions and is a smart football player. He’s very dedicated to learning the game when it comes to the film room and stuff like that.
“Whether he’s playing now or later, he has a bright future ahead of him. He’s a very talented athlete and a great guy.”
The future for Knight is apparently now. He’ll be the first quarterback to start a game other than Landry Jones since Sam Bradford played in his final game on Oct. 17, 2009.
What Thursday’s decision means for Bell, who spent the 2011 and 2012 seeming to be the Sooners’ quarterback in waiting, is unclear. Stoops hasn’t said whether the short-yardage package that made him an integral part of the Sooners’ offense will remain.
Knight is a gifted runner and with Thompson still injured, OU’s third-string quarterback for the opener will be true freshman Cody Thompson.