Q&A: Western Mustangs lineman Deionte Knight on his parents, football and how to seize the day

London morning7:46A Western Mustangs linebacker was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts and just returned from a rookie mini-camp in Virginia and Florida.

Deionte Knight comes to London in the morning to tell us what it’s like to attend the Washington Commanders rookie mini camp.

Western Mustangs defensive lineman Deionte Knight of Ajax, Ontario is in demand in both the Canadian and National Football Leagues.

As he was on his way to celebrate his football team’s 2021 Vanier Cup win, Knight received a call from the Washington Commanders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers asking him to attend their rookie mini-camp.

Knight was also selected by the Toronto Argonauts as a 10th overall pick in the CFL draft in early May.

After a long week of soccer practice sessions in Florida and Virginia, the player returned to Canada and spoke to CBC Radio London morning on Tuesday to share how this trip was for him. Here’s what he had to say.

The following has been edited for length and clarity

Q: You’re fresh out of rookie mini-camps… tell me how was this week?

A: Oh man, it was a life changing experience for sure. I got great coaching there and made a lot of new friends. I’ve definitely had to push my mind and body to the limit and experience breaking some new limits for myself, but it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m excited for what’s to come next. It was definitely a full day of work, but it was a great experience and it also gave me a great foundation for what to expect in the CFL, so I couldn’t have asked for a better time for those two weeks.

Q: The Mustangs coach described you as “enthusiastic, relentless and passionate”. Where does it come from?

A: It definitely has to come from my family. My mother’s side are actually Lebanese immigrants and they have opened their own pizza business and they have been working in the Gatineau area for a very long time. So I sure get that work ethic from them. Just, “Nothing is guaranteed in life and you have to show up every day and do your best, and bring your best effort forward and attack the day”, essentially.

In terms of football and love of the game, it has to come from my dad, DeWayne Knight, who also played in the CFL for three years and was a linebacker for Virginia Tech. He was the one who introduced me to the game and he was my pee-wee coach growing up so getting that coaching from him on my journey really helped me because he knows what it takes to be successful at a high level. I’m very grateful to have such a supportive family and I love them so much and I’m glad I can make them proud.

Q: You come from Ajax, you were also drafted by the Toronto Argonauts and you said your mother was an inspiration to you. Tell us about her.

A: She is my backbone. Without them, I would not have been able to achieve my current success. She’s an amazing woman, she raised me my sister and now she’s raising a seven year old right now so she’s a very busy woman but she’s done an amazing job. She instilled in me that work ethic and passion. The biggest lesson she taught me is that ‘every day is an opportunity’ and that’s the advice I took with me during COVID when football was shut down and I decided to rethink my training regimen to use a little more. This year definitely helped me develop a greater love for the game because I had to take the passion and put it in other directions of hard training. I did that and indeed we came back in 2021 and had the country’s No. 1 defense and attack and we had a really special year.

Q: What did you study at King’s? Do you know what you want to do after your soccer career?

A: I’m an Arts and Humanities major with a History minor. My plan after football is to be in the K-9 unit, I want to work with the RCMP, have my own German Shepherd and serve the community, so that’s the game plan for now.

Q: What do you love so much about football or team sports?

A: It has to be the camaraderie. Showing up every day to practice and meet up with your brothers and build those lifelong friendships was by far the most memorable part. As a Western Mustang, it’s a truly special fraternity and group of men that I belong to and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such an amazing network of supportive alumni. I look forward to what’s next and to continuing to support them in the future.

Q: When do you know where you will be next season, how does that work?

A: I just need to finish my season, I need to hang up a good ribbon for the coaches to rate me because that’s the most important piece of grading – your game tape. I’m going to finish the season in Toronto and then see what happens next, it all depends on what I’m doing on the field, what kind of production I have. After that, I can see what options I have in terms of NFL tryouts or workouts, so I know the NFL journey is just beginning and far from over.

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