Posted January 29, 2014

Terrance Knighton: From Temple Made to the Super Bowl

Courtesy of Denver Broncos/NFL
When defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, CLA '09, takes the field for the Denver Broncos on Sunday evening at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, he'll be the sixth former Owl to play in a Super Bowl in the last 10 years.

The Super Bowl is going to get some #CherryOn—again. When defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, CLA ’09, takes the field for the Denver Broncos on Sunday evening, he’ll be the sixth former Owl to play in a Super Bowl in the last 10 years.

Knighton, who has started all 18 games for the Broncos this season, is coming off a spectacular performance in the AFC Championship, leading all Denver defensive linemen with four tackles (two for a loss) and registering a critical fourth-down sack of New England quarterback Tom Brady late in the second half.

“That's what I’m here for—to make plays,” Knighton said after the game. “I always wanted to be part of a moment like this. I was ready for that moment. I felt like my talents were overshadowed in the past. I wanted to rise to the occasion. I wanted to make a play. Make people know my name, really.”

National audiences may not have heard of him before his big game (or before he started getting attention for his nickname, Pot Roast”), but Knighton’s name is known at Temple. He played for the Owls from 2006 through 2008, serving as captain in his senior year before being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round.

“Temple molded … the character I have now,” Knighton told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “Just handling adversity. I didn’t have a winning season there…It just molded me into a man.”

It was a time of rebuilding for the Owls, who only won 10 games while Knighton was on the roster. But the criminal justice major’s success started a trend.

Temple Head Coach Matt Rhule, who coached the Owls’ defensive line in 2006, said that Knighton “helped build a solid foundation for the future.”

“After he left, we played in two bowls games in three years and produced a number of NFL caliber players, especially at the defensive-line position: Muhammad Wilkerson, Andre Neblett, Adrian Robinson and Brian Sanford—that's five NFL players from the 2008 Temple D-line,” Rhule said.

Joining Knighton in Denver is rookie defensive end John Youboty, CLA ’13, who spent the season on the Broncos’ practice squad.

Super Bowl XLVIII will be broadcast live on FOX at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday to an audience expected to top last year’s record of more than 111 million viewers. The importance of the media spotlight shining on a Temple alumnus isn’t lost on Rhule.

“I’m proud to see Temple players have success,” he said. “No doubt that having our guys play in the Super Bowl is a source of pride and helps the program. Someone told me that since the turn of the century, nine in the 14 Super Bowls played had at least one Temple player in the game. There aren’t many universities that can make that claim.”