Sports

Lang draws early praise from his Iowa State coach

ttompkins@bradenton.com

Johnnie Lang’s circuitous route to Division I football could turn him into one of the Big 12 Conference’s biggest surprises, Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell believes.

The Iowa State head coach raved about his freshmen during Big 12 media days, but the former Manatee running back is the only one he mentioned by name, according to 247sports.com.

“Johnnie Lang is a guy that’s been really impressive as we start things,” Campbell said Monday in Frisco, Texas. “I think in two or two-and-a-half months, it’s like, ‘Whoa, where did this guy come from.’ I think we’re all excited, but again it’s all excitement, and those guys still need to grow and develop.”

Lang was on track to become one of the great Hurricane running backs before legal troubles prompted him to move from Bradenton prior to his senior year. Lang was the Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year for his junior season in 2014 and committed to West Virginia before being arrested in connection with a pair of 2015 burglaries. He finished his high school career in Utah before spending last fall in limbo — done with high school and awaiting his college chance.

Before that, Lang was a legitimate superstar for the Hurricanes, pulling in offers from Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Florida State, Maryland, UCLA, Arizona, South Florida and Central Florida on the back of a 2,000-yard rushing season as a junior. The Cyclones are hoping to have landed a forgotten star.

Kelvin McKnight: McKnight has become one of the top wide receivers not only at Samford during his few seasons since graduating Manatee, but also in the Football Championship Subdivision. On Tuesday, ahead of his junior season, McKnight was named to the Southern Conference’s preseason all-conference first team.

McKnight followed an impressive freshman season for the Bulldogs with a breakthrough sophomore campaign in 2016. He’s Samford’s top returning receiver after hauling in 70 passes for 896 yards and nine touchdowns last year. He’s one of two Bulldogs to be named to the first-team offense. The other is quarterback Devlin Hodges, who was voted the conference’s preseason player of the year. Three Samford players were honored with selections to the first-team defense and another was named a second-team specialist.

Samford was picked to finish third in the SoCon in both the media and coaches polls behind Wofford and The Citadel. The Bulldogs were one of four teams from the SoCon to reach the FCS tournament last season before falling to Youngstown State in the first round.

Kaito Onishi: Onishi’s week at the U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Championship has been an up-and-down affair, and it is far from over. On Monday, Onishi, who attends IMG Academy, recorded a hole-in-one with his first swing. The ace jump-started a 6-under-par 65 first round that left him two shots off the lead in Andover, Kan.

Tuesday was a different story. Onishi struggled from the start and finished with a 7-over-par 78 that left him tied for 29th with a 1-over-par 143 two-day total. Thanks to the fast start, Onishi comfortably made the cut. He is the only golfer with local ties in this week’s field.

David Wilson: 941-745-7057, @DBWilson2

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