After a brief week off from the scouting trail, the Heel Tough Blog returned on Friday night to scout the youngest prospect we’ve seen this season in 2022 5✮ WR Shaleak Knotts. Let’s take a look at how the Tar Heels biggest early target in the 2022 class performed in the final regular season game of his sophomore season.
Knotts is a vital part of a Monroe team that has been rebuilding over the last couple of seasons and that was on display Friday night. He played nearly every snap of the night for the Redhawks, as he started at wide receiver, safety and punter and even shifted over to corner for much of the second half. He didn’t see the ball much on offense, especially after his quarterback, Matthew Bennett, suffered what appeared to be a right wrist injury in the first half. He was targeted six times on the night, catching three of those passes for 78 yards, the final of which was a 41-yarder that went to the house to cut the Redhawks deficit to three in the fourth quarter. Knotts best catch of the night, though, came early in the first quarter, when he tipped an underthrown pass to himself and made a defender miss as he ripped off a 29-yard reception.
Defensively, Knotts started the night at safety, where he played into the third quarter before moving to corner to close out the night. Knotts racked up four total tackles while at safety, three of which were solos. His biggest play of the night on the defensive side of the football, though, came in the fourth quarter after his move to corner, as he intercepted a Parkwood pass in the red zone as the Rebels were driving to take a two possession lead and gave the Redhawks a chance to put together a drive of their own late in the fourth quarter. Knotts was targeted only twice by Parkwood quarterback Brock Cain, resulting in that interception and a pass deflection.
Unfortunately, on the Redhawks final offensive play of the game, Knotts would suffer an injury to his left knee or lower leg. He was carried to the sideline by the coaching staff and was eventually carted off following the conclusion of the game. While there is not anything definitive on his status going forward, it seems unlikely that Knotts will play for Monroe in their upcoming first round playoff matchup with Hunter Huss on Friday. We here at the Heel Tough Blog are wishing Shaleak the best in his recovery.
It’s hard to really get a full read on Knotts from what we saw on Friday night due to the lack of targets, but what he showed in limited opportunities was impressive. Knotts has good speed and is a strong enough route runner to create the separation necessary to play both in slot, where he spent most of Friday night, and on the outside. Knotts has no problem going up to get the football and he has reliable hands, a combination that makes him a nightmare for defensive backs if he can get his hands on the football. As a defender, I like him a little more at corner than safety, especially because of the fact that he is more comfortable in coverage than having to play the run. This is definitely a name to keep an eye on as a major Tar Heel target going forward.
There were a couple of other players who had big nights in this matchup that need to be recognized. Monroe wide receiver Salen Streater showcased his lightning fast speed all night and running back Tezien Grier had a big night to spark the offense after the injury at quarterback. For Parkwood, running back Sametrius Drakeford finished with 101 yards on 26 carries as a workhorse that drove the Rebels offense, while wide receiver Brooks Mushington had a couple of nice grabs. The defensive star of the night was Parkwood linebacker Austin Burns, who finished the night with 10 total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
The regular season is officially over in the state of North Carolina, meaning the Heel Tough Blog will be scouting playoff matchups the rest of the way. Next week, we will head to Providence Day High School to see if 2020 4✮ DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones can take home the NCISAA Division II championship.