With Halloween just around the corner, Illinois State junior defensive end Romeo McKnight is usually looking for a treat that’s sour, rather than sweet.
On the field, McKnight is enjoying a sweet breakout season for the Redbirds, who are ranked No. 7 this week in the FCS coaches poll and No. 8 in the STATS FCS poll.
His eight sacks are the third-highest total among all FCS players and rank second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
In our weekly Moving the Chains feature, McKnight talks Halloween candy, a meal he can’t live without, his best sport at Crystal Lake Central High School in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (it wasn’t football) and the funniest person on the Illinois State team.
What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
I like sour candy, so some Sour Patch Kids or some Sour Skittles.
Do you like the super sour candies like Warheads?
No, that’s a little too sour for me. Those make me sweat. (Laughs) I need something just right.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Bloomington-Normal?
Hacienda Leon. It’s a Mexican restaurant. That place is really good. I get a steak burrito. It’s a smothered burrito with cheese, and beans and rice.
If you could eat only one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It’d probably be steak and mashed potatoes. A good steak, medium rare. Some good mashed potatoes. And some mac and cheese.
Who’s your most inspirational teammate?
(Safety) Luther Kirk, our captain on the defense. He took some time off from football, came back and now he’s a draft prospect. It’s exciting for him, and I’m happy to see how he’s playing. We really feed off of each other. He’s an NFL dude, for sure. He brings energy to the defense and we all try to bring that energy too.
What’s the best stadium you’ve ever played in?
It was loud at North Dakota State, for sure. Colorado State was probably the most fun game and stadium for me. That was a nice place. It was nice to go there (last season) and get a couple of sacks.
Other than Illinois State, who has the best uniforms in the Missouri Valley Football Conference?
I think ours is the only one that looks good. (Laughs)
What’s a better feeling – sacking the quarterback or stuffing a running back at the line?
Definitely sacking the quarterback. You don’t get too many opportunities to get to the quarterback. That’s what you wait all year for. That’s what you put in all the work for. But hitting a running back is great, too.
Do you have a favorite sports jersey?
I don’t have any jerseys now. I used to have a (Chicago Bears) Devin Hester jersey. That was my favorite player growing up.
If you weren’t playing football, what college sport would you play?
I’d be a wrestler. I wrestled three years in high school. That was the sport I was better at at first, and everyone thought I was going to wrestle in college.
If ISU head coach Brock Spack let you play one play on offense, what position would you want to play?
Running back or tight end. Let me go out and catch a pass. (Laughs) I’d take that.
Who’s your funniest teammate?
(Defensive lineman) John Ridgeway, for sure. He’s just a character. He always has energy. He’s a funny dude.
Do you have any hobbies off the field?
I play video games. I like NBA 2K, Madden NFL, a little Fortnight here and there. I get to hang out without leaving the house.
Who’s the most famous person from Crystal Lake, Ill.?
(Green Bay Packers OL) Bryan Bulaga was big-time. When I was growing up, I was looking up to (Crystal Lake prep wrestling standouts) Austin Marsden and Gage Harrah. They were legends.
What teammate does the best imitation of Coach Spack?
Everyone does it. (Laughs) They all do it, and they’ve all got their own little variations. They’re pretty funny, honestly, and he thinks it’s funny too.