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4 DAYS TO 2022 KICKOFF: Malik Knowles

In which BracketCat counts down the fourth day until the 2022 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles.

#4 Malik Knowles
Was his superlative Texas Bowl performance the breakout spark Malik Knowles (4) needs to take the next step to becoming a superstar? 2022 will tell...
Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NOTE: Kansas State has elected to advance players’ classification even though the 2020 season did not affect eligibility. Those who wish to take advantage of this extra year will be listed as a (“super”) senior again after their original eligibility would have been exhausted.

Goal No. 4: IMPROVE. Every day... as a player, person and student.

#4 Malik Knowles

Redshirt Senior | 6-3 | 200 lbs. | Mansfield, Texas
Malik Knowles
Malik Knowles
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Starter
  • Status: On Scholarship

Malik Jarnell Knowles (b. Aug. 17, 2000) is an athletic, dynamic wide receiver who is just the second player in K-State history with touchdowns of at least 70 yards on a run (2020 at Baylor — 75 yards), catch (2020 at Texas — 70 yards) and kickoff return (2020 at Mississippi State — 100 yards) in a career, joining Brandon Banks (2008-09).

Knowles enters his senior season tied for fourth in school history in kickoff-return touchdowns (three), ranked sixth in kickoff-return average (28.2) and yards (1,099), and tied for eighth in kickoff-return attempts (39).

He also is tied for eighth in touchdown receptions (12), while he is one of 33 players in school history with 1,000 career receiving yards (1,142) and one of 33 players with 2,000 or more career all-purpose yards (2,517).

Knowles also enters 2022 tied for second nationally among active players in career kickoff-return touchdowns, fifth in kickoff-return average and tied for fifth in non-offensive TDs. He is tied for fourth in K-State bowl history with two receiving touchdowns in his career.

Knowles saw time in four games in 2018, with a start against Texas Tech, but still was able to preserve his redshirt. All in all, he hauled in 10 catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Knowles’ 10 catches were the most by a K-State true freshman since Tyler Lockett in 2011.

His first career touchdown was a 21-yarder at TCU, while he hauled in an 8-yarder against Texas Tech. The game against the Red Raiders also featured career highs in receptions (5) and yards (56).

Knowles’ score at TCU was a career-long catch, while he also returned a kickoff for 12 yards against the Horned Frogs. This, as it turns out, would be a harbinger of things to come...

Despite battling nagging injuries all year and adapting to a new coaching staff, Knowles played in 11 games in 2019 with eight starts, hauling in 27 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns to rank second on the team in each category.

He earned votes for Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors from the league’s coaches and finished third in school history in receiving yards among freshmen, while he was tied for fourth in catches.

Knowles hauled in a 70-yard touchdown reception at Texas — the longest by a Wildcat in Big 12 Conference play in two years — as part of a 94-yard receiving day.

He set career highs with 99 yards and two touchdowns against Bowling Green.

Knowles, who is majoring in social sciences, returned six kickoffs for 222 yards and a touchdown in 2019, highlighted by his return of a fourth-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a score at Mississippi State en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Knowles returned a kickoff 52 yards in the 2019 Liberty Bowl, the longest kickoff return in K-State bowl history, and also rushed seven times for 70 yards on the year.

He teamed with former Wildcat Joshua Youngblood to be the first set of freshmen teammates to return kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season since 2016 (at Memphis).

Knowles entered the 2020 season as a member of the watch list for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which is given annually to the top collegiate player with Texas ties.

He started nine games in 2020 and shined over the final two contests, including when he set a career high with six catches against Texas, while he tied his career high with a pair of receiving touchdowns in the same game.

Knowles hauled in 13 receptions for 204 yards and three touchdowns on the season, while he rushed six times for 100 yards and one score.

He also returned 11 kickoffs for 203 yards, finished sixth in the Big 12 in kickoff-return average and took a jet sweep 75 yards for a touchdown at Baylor, which was tied for the 11th-longest run in school history and which also was the second longest by a wide receiver.

Knowles also scored on a 35-yard reception just before halftime at West Virginia.

Now fully healthy, 2021 proved to be his best season yet. Knowles played in every game, with 11 starts at wide receiver, in addition to again being one of the top kickoff return men in the nation.

He finished second nationally with two kickoff-return touchdowns, while his 33.1-yard average ranked fourth in the country as he earned second-team All-American honors from Phil Steele.

Knowles also was named a first-team All-Big 12 kick returner by the league’s coaches, which marked the 15th time in the 26-year existence of the Big 12 Conference — and the eighth time in the last nine years — that a Wildcat was a first-team All-Big 12 returner.

He also earned second-team All-Big 12 honors as an all-purpose player from the Associated Press, was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick by the coaches as a wide receiver and earned votes for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year accolades.

Knowles tied for fourth in school history in kickoff-return touchdowns, while he was fifth in both average and total yards (662). He capped the season with two receiving touchdowns in K-State’s win over LSU in the Texas Bowl, tied for the third most in K-State bowl history.

Knowles totaled a career-high 112 receiving yards against Southern Illinois and hauled in three passes for 94 yards at Kansas, which included a season-long touchdown catch of 68 yards. He eclipsed 1,000 career receiving yards during the game against the Jayhawks.

Knowles also returned kickoffs for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, going 99 yards at Oklahoma State and 93 yards against Oklahoma. Both games resulted in more than 100 return yards for the contest.

He also rushed 15 times for 106 yards on the year, thanks in part to a season-high 35 yards in the season opener against Stanford.

Knowles enters the 2022 season on the Paul Hornung Award watch list and the preseason All-Big 12 team, while he also was names a Preseason All-American at kick returner.

He prepped under head coach Kirk Thor at Lake Ridge (Texas) High School, where he collected 40 receptions for 846 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior en route to first-team All-District 10-5A accolades, and also participated in track and field in high school.

He helped the Eagles to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Texas Class 5A D1 state playoffs, including a 113-yard, three-touchdown performance in his final high school game.