Football By: Ashley Birdsong
AUBURN, Ala. – After four years as a starting safety at Southeast Missouri State in the Ohio Valley Conference, Bydarrius Knighten now showcases his skills against the best the SEC West has to offer.
Knighten’s first season as an Auburn Tiger will be his fifth season of college football, after using the NCAA’s graduate transfer opportunity coupled with an extra season of eligibility because of the pandemic.
“It got hectic when I went into the transfer portal because I had schools and coaches contacting me every day, all day,” said the native of Tunica, Mississippi. “It got stressful trying to figure out where to go, but ultimately I narrowed it down and ended up choosing Auburn.”
Knighten deferred entering the 2021 NFL Draft once the transfer and eligibility options were set in place, making the decision to play another year in college football easier.
“Once I heard about the COVID-19 rules, I quickly made my mind up to stay another year,” he said. “I had offers from every Power Five conference, but the opportunity to play in the SEC is just unmatched. It was a no-brainer to come here to Auburn.
“I made a quick bond with the coaches. I was able to make the decision pretty quickly.”
At Southeast Missouri State, playing in 45 games since 2017 and starting 43, Knighten recorded 255 tackles, six interceptions and 18 pass breakups, and was twice an all-Ohio Valley Conference honoree at safety.
In 2018, he returned a blocked field goal 85 yards for a touchdown against Jacksonville State, the longest return on a blocked field goal in school history, big plays he hopes to bring to the SEC as an Auburn Tiger.
“I don’t want to put all the expectations on myself, and I just want to help the team out in any type of way that I can,” he said. “I know that plays will be made in the process of doing well, and I just want to help the team win.”
Knighten will be continuing his studies at Auburn while playing under first-year head coach Bryan Harsin. He proudly received his bachelor’s degree in recreation and parks administration in December 2020 from Southeast Missouri and has begun graduate studies in Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts.
After the season, Knighten plans to train for the 2022 NFL Draft. After his football career, Knighten wants to trade in his helmet for a coat and tie and a career in business.
“I see myself being an entrepreneur for sure,” he said. “I have a couple of business ideas I want to start to begin and plan out and everything once I get to that point.”
For now, Knighten has settled in on the Plains and has been enjoying everything Auburn has to offer.
“It’s a lot better than where I came from,” he said. “My hometown doesn’t even have a Walmart, it’s so small. I live near Memphis, so I always had to go up there to get stuff like clothes.
“Auburn is a college town, so there’s always something to do. It’s been overwhelming with all the things to do and all the people, but I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
Excited to step onto the big stage in Jordan-Hare Stadium this season, Knighten wants the Auburn Family to know where he stands.
“I just want to show the fans that I belong here,” he said. “I want them to know that no moment is too big for me and that I am all about winning.”
Ashley Birdsong is a student worker in Auburn Athletics media relations