Terrance Knighton will have no problem fitting in with his fellow New Englanders.
The new Patriots defensive tackle, and Windsor, Conn., native, already cheers on the hometown teams.
“I’m very excited about the Celtics,” Knighton said of his favorite basketball team. “I think when you’re born in Connecticut, I think at birth you have a choice — either Yankees or Red Sox — and I chose to go with Boston. I’m a big Boston Celtics fan, Red Sox, Bruins, obviously Patriot fan growing up. I’m really excited about the Celtics right now, the playoff push. Hopefully when I get in town I can catch a few games. I’m very excited about it.”
Knighton chose to sign with the Patriots over the Washington Redskins, with whom he played in 2015, as a free agent last week. His childhood fandom played a role.
“I just prayed on it, talked to a lot of my family. I decide with my heart and my heart just told me to go to New England,” Knighton said. “I have a lot of respect for the Washington Redskins and their organization. Earlier in the process I was told they were going to move in a different direction and they showed interest late once New England did.
“I just felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play for a team that obviously I loved to watch playing growing up, and being a big fan of the coaching staff and just like I said, having a fresh new start and being able to play for this great coaching staff and I’m looking forward to meeting the guys.”
Before deciding to come to New England, Knighton received some sage advice from a man who knows a thing or two about the Patriots.
“I had a long talk with Vince Wilfork obviously before signing, and he was telling me that it’s a grind but at the end of the day, it’s football,” Knighton said. “It’s a good environment to be around, it’s a good building to be in, and he had nothing but good things to say about the organization. Like I said, I’m just excited and I’m just looking forward to getting in the building and learning as much football as I can and being around the guys.”
Wilfork was one of Knighton’s favorite Patriots players to watch while honing his skills in Connecticut.
“Maybe towards high school and college is when I really started paying attention to players,” Knighton said. “And obviously being a big fan of guys like Vince Wilfork, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, and just those leaders on defense and guys that won games and won Super Bowls. The Rodney Harrisons, just the guys that were great leaders on and off the field and were role models for me growing up and guys that I modeled myself after on the field like a Vince Wilfork. Obviously, big shoes to fill and me being a big guy and playing nose tackle, people will look for me to be like a Wilfork replacement but I’m not thinking about that. I’m just going to come in and work hard every day and just try to create my own niche in the organization.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images