How Trey Knox figures to be key piece in South Carolina’s brand new tight end room

The tight end room is brand new — no returners from last year.

The offense is new. Coordinator Dowell Loggains has never called plays for South Carolina.

Yet, when Loggains looks across the practice field and sees Trey Knox lining up at tight end, he feels a sense of comfort.

Loggains last served as tight ends coach at Arkansas before joining Shane Beamer’s staff this offseason. His presence in Columbia is a key reason why the 6-foot-5 Knox chose to transfer from the Razorbacks to the Gamecocks. He calls Loggains a family figure. He knows his wife and children and appreciates the way Loggains takes time to try to educate players.

The respect is mutual.

“It is very helpful for Trey to be here because there are some things from Arkansas terminology-wise that get carried over,” Loggains said. “I can say, ‘Hey, Trey, remember the Texas A&M play?’ And he can also be standing on the side talking to a quarterback about a route.

“He’s got a tremendous amount of experience. He’s played a lot of games. He’s only 21 years old. But that helps if you’re a good teammate, too, and you want to help bring along young guys and new transfers. And he’s done an exceptional job that way.”

None of the team’s tight ends from last year’s squad remain with the team, with Jaheim Bell transferring to Florida State, Austin Stogner going back to Oklahoma and Nate Adkins exhausting his eligibility. Beamer and his staff brought in a slew of new players for the room, including Knox, Western Kentucky transfer Joshua Simon and Florida transfer Nick Elksnis, among others. But Knox figures to get the first crack at starting duties due to his experience and familiarity with Loggains.

“I would think the same,” Knox said of his projected starting status. “I don’t want to toot my own horn. but Coach Loggains and I have a great connection, very special relationship. I’m just happy to be here and be around these great people and excited to work.”

Arkansas initially recruited Knox as a wide receiver, and he played there his freshman year before eventually converting into a tight end. He posted modest receiving totals in 12 starts a senior for the Razorbacks last year: 26 receptions for 296 yards and five touchdowns.

But Knox served primarily as a blocking tight end for the Razorbacks and should see more targets in Loggain’s new offense. Alongside returner Antwane “Juice” Wells, Knox could evolve into an important target for incumbent quarterback starter Spencer Rattler.

The Gamecocks used their tight ends in creative ways under former offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield. With Bell in particular, the Gamecocks lined up the tight end all over the formation, splitting him out wide, at fullback and even at running back. When USC was dealing with injuries to its running back room late last season, Bell took over lead tailback duties.

Knox likely won’t be utilized in that exact same fashion, but he did say he has shades of Bell’s versatility in his game.

“I definitely have seen some tape of how they used Jaheim,” Knox said. “And I think I can do the same thing. I think I’m very versatile, and I think the coaching staff knows that, as well. And so we’re gonna just find ways to get our playmakers the ball in space, make people miss and break tackles.”

Expectations are high for Beamer’s Gamecocks after reaching a bowl game for a second-straight year and after ending the season with upsets over Tennessee and rival Clemson. Playing for Arkansas last year, Knox had a unique vantage point of being able to see the Gamecocks as opponents early in the season. USC lost to Arkansas 44-30 in Week 2 last season, but Knox watched from afar as the Gamecocks surged late in the year.

“We played (USC) in Week 2, so the cohesiveness wasn’t there, and you could tell,” Knox said. “But as the season progressed, it definitely picked up, and they figured out what they wanted to do on the offensive side of the ball and he started scoring points at a fast rate.

“And I was excited to see that because that means you’re trending in the right direction, when the guys are together and they’re willing to battle and fight.”

Now Knox will be able to contribute to that fight himself.