Pass-catching tight ends can be a rarity in high school football. Offenses often generate their points off explosive running backs or high-powered spread passing games.
That's why Concord High's Terrance LaMont "T.L." Knox drew so much attention after the 2010 season when he tied for the state lead in touchdown catches by a tight end with eight.
Making the transformation from mostly a junior varsity team player as a sophomore to a major college recruit after his junior season took some getting use to for Knox.
When he verbally accepted UNC Chapel Hill's scholarship offer in June, Knox felt it was the just reward for years of practice, weightlifting, attending camps and combines, and transferring to Concord High at the right time.
Knox says he caught his first touchdown passes (three of them) playing tight end in his first season of youth football in 2004. He continued to play the position at Kannapolis Middle School in seventh and eighth grades and doubled as a defensive end.
Once he reached A.L. Brown High, he was switched to linebacker as a freshman on the junior varsity. As a sophomore, he was moved back to tight end but split time between the JV and varsity teams.
During spring break of his sophomore year, his family moved to Concord and Knox transferred to Concord High. He immediately started participating in the football team's spring and summer workouts.
"The coaches welcomed me with open arms," said Knox. "At first it was kind of rocky (with the players) because the Kannapolis-Concord rivalry is pretty strong and they were like here's a Kannapolis player. But after that they saw how hard I worked, that I was a leader on the field and in the locker room, I blended in."
Concord coach Glen Padgett says he recognized Knox could be a special talent even though a tight end is not normally used as a featured pass catcher in the four receiver spread offense his team employs. Padgett adds that Knox is also an exceptional blocker "which in some cases is like having a sixth lineman."
Knox was held without a reception in the Spiders' first two games in 2010 but his first catch, in Concord's third game against East Rowan, went 36 yards for a touchdown. In the following game, his only catch was for a 22-yard touchdown against Hunter Huss.
Something started to click.
Knox had touchdown receptions in four of the next five games and finished the season with 14 catches for 246 yards.
After the season, highlight videos produced separately by his uncle and a recruiting service went viral online and college recruiters started to notice.
"Between January and February, the recruiting attention I got probably stepped up tenfold," said Knox. "I had probably six schools come visit me in one week."
Knox says Louisiana State, UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Tennessee, Louisville and Wake Forest were among the schools that showed interest.
At six-feet-three, 245 pounds, with 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash, Knox is an easy sell. Padgett says he also excels in the classroom and has good character that appealed to recruiters.
"The main thing is I want to go to college and get a degree," said Knox, who is interested in business marketing. "Not a lot of people from my family have gone to college and gotten degrees. I want to be successful in life. I have the drive and determination to be successful. I don't want to be an average guy."
In Concord's season opener against West Charlotte on Aug. 19, Knox had his pace from last year. He had just two catches, but one of them was for a 7-yard touchdown.