Oct. 25, 2006

Irish head coach Charlie Weis talks about Notre Dame’s senior wide receiver and all-star candidate Rhema McKnight.

Q. How determined was Rhema coming into this year and throughout the year to have a season like he’s having?

COACH Charlie Weis: It was Rhema’s decision to come back when he was offered a medical red shirt. When he was offered that, you still have to get cleared through the University, because we’re not a red shirt university, as you know. So he still has to go through the process and make a decision of whether or not he wanted to come back and go to grad school and play another year or try to get into the league at that time. He’s committed to helping this team win as many games as he can and obviously performances like today only help him personally as well.

Q. I know you’ve said in the past that you don’t necessarily have routes specific for receivers, but Brady Quinn has liked throwing to Rhema for quite some time, the two previous years, and he’s leading the time in receptions again. What is it about Rhema that makes him an attractive target for Brady, and second, what qualities does Rhema have that will assist him in his pursuit on the next level?

COACH Charlie Weis: The first part of the question is when you have two front line receivers, which I consider us having two front line receivers, you can take our two and play them with any two in the country, and when you have two front line receivers, it really is tough to pay a lot of attention to both of them. So it’s kind of pick your poison. If you want to pay extra attention and roll onto Jeff (Samardzija), then that leaves Rhema basically running one-on-one routes on the backside. If you want to try to take both of the two receivers away, then it leaves the tight end one-on-one working the whole middle of the field. So it’s a really tough dilemma when you have a couple of front line guys opposite each other.

I think that Rhema like the other day was the benefit of a lot of rotation towards Jeff, where Purdue in the past has played a lot more quarters, they played a lot more three cover last week, and almost everything was rolled to Jeff. So now it’s all one?on?one on the backside. When it comes to that, Rhema to follow up the second part of your question, is a very good route hunter with very good quickness and very good hands.

As a matter of fact, when he drops a ball, it’s usually not because he’s not capable of catching it; it’s usually just a lack of concentration because he’s got very good hands.

Q. Does Rhema remind you of anybody that you’ve seen on the next level?

COACH Charlie Weis: Well, the more I watch him, the more he starts to remind me of a couple of the more physical types of quickness receivers, like a Hines Ward. Hines Ward has made a reputation of being the most physical blocker of any receiver in the country. I wouldn’t say Rhema has quite gotten to that point yet, but he’s capable of doing that. But he runs routes the same and he has the same type of quicks and also the same type of body type, to be honest with you.

Q. Last year you had a good complement of receivers with Jeff (Samardzija) and Maurice (Stovall). Rhema, how does he give you a different sort of complement?

COACH Charlie Weis: Rhema has got exceptional quickness, and I think that’s one of his greatest strengths is that some guys are lightning fast, some have great hands, some guys run great routes, and some guys have that real good quickness coming in and out of breaks. He has all of that.

Q. Remind you of anyone that you coached previously, especially in the pros?

COACH Charlie Weis: Normally the bigger you are – I have had a bunch of little guys that have had good quicks, I just haven’t had very many guys over six feet that have had really good quicks. I had a midget brigade in New England where we had all sorts of guys with quicks, but they weren’t 6’2″, 205 pounds.