If Johnny Knox isn't a familiar name to you yet, it will be soon. Knox is the wide receiver who led the Bears with 94 receiving yards on four catches in Monday's win over the Green Bay Packers.
As a small college player, Knox wasn't highly touted -- so who is he and where did he come from? Knox was born Nov. 3, 1986, in Houston, Texas. He played for Tyler Junior College for two years and then Abilene Christian University before he was selected by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. At the time, he signed a four-year contract for just under $2 million, which looks like it's going to be a bargain.
In his second year at Tyler, Knox led all juco receivers with 884 yards and 12 touchdowns. He played in 13 games, with eight starts, catching 45 passes for 1,023 yards and 13 touchdowns.
After moving on to Abilene Christian, he was twice named an All-American and all-conference. In two years at ACU he caught 118 passes for 2,227 yards and 30 touchdowns. He ended his college career with the most touchdown receptions in school history and finished fifth all-time in receiving. He ranks second in school history with nine 100-yard receiving games and is tied for first with two 200-yard games. He was the second player in team history to post two 1,000-yard receiving seasons and also set a school single-season record with 17 touchdown receptions in 2007. During his college career, he caught 16 passes for 306 yards and eight touchdowns in Abilene's four playoff games. Increasing his versatility, he also returned 21 punts for 188 yards and seven kickoffs for 160 yards.
As a senior he was named an All-American by the NFL Draft Report while taking home all-Lone Star conference and all-Super Region IV first-team honors.
In that senior year he led the team in receptions and receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He returned 13 punts for 96 yards and three kickoffs for 75 yards. He is only the second player in ACU history to post back-to-back 200-yard games. He set the school record with 232 yards receiving in a game against Angelo State.
Knox also set the Abilene Christian and conference single-season record for touchdown catches with 17. He ranks third all-time in Division II history for touchdown catches.
With those numbers and more, it's no wonder the Bears put him to work right away in 2009. In his rookie year, Knox finished second in the NFL with a 29.0 kickoff return average and was named to the Pro Bowl as a replacement for Minnesota's Percy Harvin, who was forced to withdraw due to injury concerns. In 15 games last year Knox had 45 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns. He ranked seventh in catches and ninth in receiving yards in the NFL among all rookies in 2009.
In this past Monday night's game against the Packers, Knox caught four passes for 94 yards and carried the ball once for another two yards. Not surprisingly; Knox seems to do well against the Packers. He caught his first NFL pass on Sept. 13, 2009, in Green Bay -- a 68-yard reception. Then he continued his success against other teams -- in his next game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he recorded his first NFL touchdown catch. He scored another touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks, and he made a 102-yard kickoff return for a score against the Detroit Lions, the third-longest kickoff return in the NFL last year; he wound up with five receiving touchdowns in 2009, second on the team behind Greg Olsen.
If you play fantasy football, don't underestimate Johnny Knox. He's trended up in many leagues each successive week this year. Knox has rapidly moved up in the estimation of the coaching staff and is currently listed as first string on the Bears' depth chart. His most productive game so far was against the Packers and by all indications, he is a guy Jay Cutler can rely on.