Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Impact is one thing. Instant impact is quite another.
Mumford High senior tailback Ryan Knuckles, playing just his fourth game with the Mustangs after relocating from Lima, Ohio, is the Detroit Public School League’s Proud Strong Learner of the Week after running for an astounding 376 yards and five touchdowns last Friday to help his new team win for the first time this season.
“He’s electrified our program,” Mumford coach Eric Smith said. “Each week he’s been here, he’s gained over 100 yards and has not only changed the atmosphere of my team but also my coaches. We were starting to look at what we were doing that was keeping us from executing properly. But Ryan came in and picked up on the offense just like we asked him to do.”
The Mustangs’ 33-20 victory against Finney ended a streak of seven defeats. Knuckles, a 5-11 ½, 214-pounder who also plays linebacker, also had six tackles and one sack. He credits his teammates with paving the way for his PSLer of the Week breakout performance.
“I want to thank God most importantly and my (offensive) line,’’ he said. “This is a very special honor. I want to thank everybody for recognizing our hard work as a whole. This wasn’t just me running. It was a team culmination. We’ve been hungry for a win this whole season and it came at an opportune time.”
Knuckles’ transition to Mumford was made easier by the fact that he started there as a freshman.
“The Detroit Public School League has a lot of great competition and I’m excited being back here,’’ he said. “I know about the Mumford pride. When I was a freshman, we went to a 7-on-7 (camp) and, when we walked in, the whole 7-on-7 stopped and said ‘Mumford’s here.’ Ever since then I’ve had this deep feeling that this is where I wanted to be.”
Knuckles reputation as a big-time player preceded his return to Mumford. Based on his previous high school season, he’s getting looks from major college programs.
“The biggest I’ve gotten so far came from the University of Miami,’’ he said. “That’s been my dream college since I was a young man. I just hope everything works out for the best, but I’m leaving all my options open.”
Knuckles wants to pursue a career in the NFL.
“But if the Lord doesn’t bless me with that opportunity, I’d be fine with going to college and get my degree and becoming a successful businessman,’’ he said. “I’m a fighter. So whatever it takes to succeed, that’s what I’m willing to do.”
The Proud Strong Learner of the Week Award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletic performers and is sponsored by McDonald’s owner-operators of Detroit.