Jackson Knotts is the second-ranked javelin thrower in Class 4A.
Plant City High School’s Jackson Knotts is probably better-known for his long snapping prowess on the football field, for which Rubio Long Snapping ranked him eighth among juniors in its nationwide network. But he’s also making a name for himself in a sport that’s totally new to him this year. Though he only recently picked up a javelin, Knotts seems to have figured it out quickly and is now ranked No. 2 overall among FHSAA Class 4A throwers.
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This is your first time with the javelin?
Yeah. I’ve only been doing javelin for a couple weeks now, a few weeks now.
Katherine Ruppert picked it up really quickly last year and now you’re also a top-three thrower in the state. What is it about the PCHS program that’s working so well in this event, even though it’s still very new to the state?
Well there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of athleticism in Plant City, but Coach (Brian) Brubaker’s also a very good coach. He’s really well-respected on the west coast of Florida. He did it in college. At one point he was top 100 in the world for javelin, so he knows what he’s doing and he gives good instruction.
What made you want to try javelin?
I’m not the fastest in the world. I wanted to pole vault but I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve always been able to throw, I’ve played sports all my life, so I was like, “Well, let’s try javelin.” (Brubaker) taught me some technique and I invested myself in it… I just kept working at it and the results showed.
Definitely a little different from long snapping.
Oh yeah, but it’s still the same principle, you know? The discipline, the precision, really it’s just focusing on technique more than strength. Both sports are like that.
Is javelin something you want to go for in college?
If it happens. I mean, I’d love to do both, but whichever one. If I’m throwing super far, I’d pick javelin. If snapping’s working out — snapping is working out right now — if it keeps going, I’ll pick that. It would be cool to be a dual-sport athlete in college… I’ll just keep working hard at both and whatever happens happens.
Any college plans?
I talk to schools every now and then. I don’t have any offers but there are certain schools that I like. I want to stay closer to home, more in the south, so I like Florida and UCF. Florida, Georgia, maybe South Carolina. My dad says the one school I can’t go to is Florida State.
Do you know what you’d want to study?
I have a few interests. I love crime TV shows, so maybe criminal justice would be cool. But I really don’t know yet.
Do you have a preference between the two sports?
Javelin is addicting. I love coming out here and practicing every day. But I love snapping, too. I wouldn’t be here without snapping. They feed off each other and the work and mentality goes for both. That makes me better. They’ve both done so much for me, so I can’t pick.
Long snapping doesn’t get a whole lot of attention compared to most other positions. What made you want to do it?
Long snapping is year-round. It’s a lot of work, a lot of technique. It’s different every single time and that’s why I like it. There’s no attention unless you have a bad snap, because then everyone knows who you are because you messed up the game, so the goal is not to be known. I like knowing I went to a game, I did really good and we won the game or possibly benefitted from me snapping. You have to work in the wind, keep track of who’s around you and what area of the field you’re on, how fast you have to go. There’s different components of what you have to do every single time. I mean, my routine is the same every time but there’s little things. Maybe this foot doesn’t slide back as far. That comes with reps and doing it a lot.
So it’s a lot like sinking a long putt in golf, where there’s so much analysis you have to do before you snap or punt the ball.
For sure. It’s not just what you see, it’s all the stuff you did before and what you do after it. People really don’t see what you do out here, they just see what you see on the field.
What’s some of the best advice a coach has given you?
I work out with Coach (Wayne) Ward at the Power Shop and he tells me to put all that you have into every single thing you do. Never taking a break, never missing a set or missing a rep, giving your all every single rep. And then it’s taking that from the weight room out into life, on and off the field, doing everything I can to the best of my ability. And I appreciate the failures in life because an expert has failed more times than a beginner has even tried. I feel thankful for all the failures I have because I learn from them. He’s a good guy.