Long before Joe McKnight ever set foot on USC's campus, he was being hailed as "the next Reggie Bush." Coaches who had scouted the shifty Louisiana football star couldn't resist; whenever they're searching for a way to gauge someone's worth, comparisons are the first place they head.
McKnight was fast (though probably not as blazing fast as the Heisman Trophy winner), elusive and versatile and could also be a factor as a receiver and return man -- all things that Bush did with the Trojans. When USC coaches first visited McKnight, they talked about how, as a cornerback, he could do a "three-and-out," meaning play three years at USC and then leave for the NFL as a first-round defensive back. But the Trojans' staff realized that probably wasn't the best way to woo McKnight. Instead, he would be showcased like Bush, which sounded great to him. McKnight signed on amid a recruiting frenzy with plenty of drama the night before he made it official and in the days right after.
McKnight disappeared the night before signing day, and none of his closest friends had any idea where he went or with whom, especially since he didn't have a car and wasn't answering his cell. Then on signing day, McKnight made some comments that raised the issue of Bush's involvement in his recruiting process, which USC later had to investigate.
The weight of those Reggie Bush comparisons often have proved to be very heavy for McKnight. I kept thinking about that when I saw the USC junior's name roll across the ticker the other night.
Bruce Feldman got to know Joe McKnight well while working on his book "Meat Market" -- and as a writer based in the L.A. area, he covers USC extensively. To hear his thoughts on the current McKnight situation -- plus a ton of recruiting news -- you must be an ESPN Insider.