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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Even before Joe McKnight burst onto the national scene as a running back at USC and even before he was the nation’s No. 2 high school player who committed to USC in February of 2007, Jets safety LaRon Landry knew about McKnight.

Landry and McKnight grew up just stone’s throw from each other in Louisiana, Landry attending Hahnville High School while McKnight went 10 minutes away to John Curtis. Landry was a couple years older and they would take different paths after high school – Landry stayed in state and went to LSU while McKnight went to West Coast and USC – but they knew each other. And now they sit with just one locker between them in the Jets locker room, laughing and talking about “balling.”

“You got to understand this: There’s only two things you can do [down] there – ball or go the other route,” Landry told The Jets Blog. “I knew who he was, for sure I did.”

Now McKnight is leaning on Landry as he transitions from running back to cornerback. McKnight has been pressed into duty on the defensive side of the ball with the ACL tear Darrelle Revis suffered last Sunday in Miami, meaning he must quickly learn the defense. It has been a week of transition for McKnight to a new position and a new playbook but he’s doing well as he had three interceptions in Wednesday’s practice and another one on Thursday.

But to Landry, it seems like McKnight will always be that young kid running around on the football fields of Jefferson Parish who went on to become one of the most coveted recruits in the nation.

“In high school, the guys who stand out, you knew they were going to be ballers and be something. You knew him – he stood out,” Landry said. “You knew it. Especially the high school he went to, you knew it.”

As for the transition to cornerback, Landry has no doubt that McKnight – who played offense and defense for John Curtis – has the goods to play at this level.

“I knew him as both, a great running back and a cornerback,” Landry said.

McKnight, obviously listening in to the conversation just feet away, perks up.

“I can play it all, all the positions!” he said with a giant smile.

Landry just shook his head and the two began to laugh, just the like the neighbors they are – and have always been.

Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets and can be followed for practice updates and news @KristianRDyer


Tags: Editorial Aside, Player Profile, NYJets
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