More Story: Notre Dame adversity shapes Rhema McKnight's success

IRISH STEW

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Yesterday, we published a story catching up with former Notre Dame wide receiver Rhema McKnight, detailing how the season-ending injury he suffered during the 2005 season has altered his future — for the better.

But, as in most stories, some of our interview with McKnight (and quarterback Brady Quinn) was left on the cutting room floor.

Here's the best of the rest from the former Irish standout.

Rhema McKnight

On continuing to watch Notre Dame football:

“I definitely still pay attention. That takes up my Saturday mornings, man. I’m constantly watching the games, and I’ve been fortunate enough to make it out to a few games the last couple years. I’m definitely active in regards when it comes to watching and going to the alumni tailgates and stuff like that.”

On why he didn't play organized football until his sophomore year of high school:

“I just grew up around the sport of basketball. I watched football. I loved football. But it was just one of those things that unfortunately, as a kid, I didn’t grow up in the best of circumstances, so I didn’t have money to play Pop Warner football. But at the end of the day, it all worked out.”

On the culture shock when he first enrolled at Notre Dame:

“Growing up in LA and Northern California, the lifestyle is a whole lot faster. You get to Indiana, where everything is slowed down. People talk slow. People walk slow. People drive slow. Don’t even get me started on the snow. That was my first real winter my freshman year. I definitely had thoughts of wanting to transfer. I was definitely getting homesick and wanting to be in the warm weather, but I knew that’s where I was supposed to be. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I stuck it out, and I’m very blessed and thankful to be able to end my career the way I did.”

On managing his ego as a freshman:

“Coming in my freshman year, I was humbled very quick, thanks to our senior leadership at the time. We had DBs like Shane Walton and Vontez Duff who I had to go against every day. Having those guys around and going against them every day, they definitely taught me as a freshman that I still had a lot of work to do.”

On the value of his Notre Dame degree:

The rich tradition at Notre Dame alone, just to be able to say that you went to Notre Dame, people are going to look at you differently, in a positive light. I was able to network. I was in classes with people that are owning businesses. That network of Domers is just amazing.”

On Notre Dame's 40-37 comeback victory over Michigan State in 2006:

“I remember Jeff and I looking at each other, and we literally gave each other that look (that said), ‘Let’s go. Let’s do this.’ Both of us ended up with two touchdowns. Everybody made plays to win that game — offensively, defensively and special teams. That was an amazing game and an amazing atmosphere to be in.”

Brady Quinn

On how McKnight benefited from head coach Charlie Weis' offense in 2006:

"It was a matter of getting an offense that played to our strengths and that happened when Charlie was hired in 2005. Obviously that was the year Rhema got hurt but up until that point, he was our leading receiver. Following the injury, he essentially switched to play 'X' after the emergence of Jeff (Samardzija). Some would have been upset about it, but Rhema had a great attitude and benefited mightily from that. He had a big season and was able to make the transition to 'X' without many even noticing the switch. I can only imagine what we could have been capable of, had Charlie been our coach for three or even four years.”

Rhema McKnight celebrates after defeating Michigan State 40-37 Saturday, September 23, in East Lansing, MI. (Marcus Marter)