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Gold and Black Illustrated Volume 28, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 5 23 nal season, and though he doesn't have to prove himself anymore — he's been productive enough on the field, with nearly 1,300 career all-purpose yards — he can't not work like he does. "It's just always been a part of me," he said after the spring. "It comes from my upbringing. My mom and my dad always put a lot on me, just to see how I'd react. It got to a point where I knew exactly what I needed to do in order to reach, because my parents worked so hard, just for the little things that we had. Now, it's paying off. It's, like, a part of me now. I definitely feel like if you work hard enough at anything, something good has to come from it. It may not be the biggest prize ever, but that small piece of gratification is always good in my book. "My thing is, I just do the best that I can do. As long as I'm happy with myself and knowing I gave everything I had, then I'm cool." Dexter Jr. is exactly who Dexter Sr. and Charlette Knox molded him to be: Someone who cherishes moments by recognizing the importance of them, who works to be ready for all of them, who expects to seize them, who won't take them for granted. D.J. Knox learned as a young kid he would be handed nothing. His parents made sure of that, giving him con- siderable responsibilities with sibling Chauncey, who is four years younger. D.J. was required to wake Chauncey in the morning and help him get ready for school. By the time D.J. got a car, he'd be the one to shuttle Chauncey to get a haircut — after he went to the bank to withdraw the money for it — and then stop by the grocery store to pick up the family's essentials before he got home. "Especially at a young age, when you instill that, it just sticks somehow," D.J. Knox said. Being accountable spread across everything Knox did. He surrounded himself with friends who were like-minded and ambitious. In grade school, that meant a group that wouldn't let him engage in "bad things" or anything that could hurt his development, as a football player or a student. In high school, that meant his group of friends start- ed incorporating college-type workouts into their sched- ule, which included weekend workouts for "fun." They'd push each other in the classroom, too, and, ultimately, the core of the group graduated near the top of their high school class, many loaded up with courses in a gift- ed program, Knox said. So by the time Knox arrived in West Lafayette, he was ready to lock in with another full-throttle group. He'd met Da'Wan Hunte, one year older, on his official visit and clicked, and he connected with freshman class- mate Gregory Phillips early on in their rookie year, too. It was the perfect group to spearhead Knox into a productive, effective, rewarding college life. Hunte and Phillips were workaholics, establishing ear- ly-morning routines to increase conditioning and football skill sets, and developed into players who were intense and meticulous in terms of preparation. But the rub didn't only go one way. Hunte recalled times he'd wake up last season — his senior year — and housemate Knox would be gone al- ready or how Hunte would be home at night but Knox was even later to arrive, having spent a full day in class, the weight room, practicing and watching film. "He comes to work every day. I can't recall a day I saw D.J. half-stepping with anything or taking things for grant- ed," Hunte said. "Ever since he's been here, as far as I've known him, he's taken the game very seriously, and he comes to work every day and you can't ask for a better guy or a better teammate than D.J. I watched him grow over the years, and his work ethic just continued to elevate." Not a surprise, then, that the trio all pushed to revive and, then, join Omega Psi Phi, a fraternity on campus. The principles of the organization perfectly aligned with how Knox was raised: Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance Tom Campbell Knox led Purdue with 6.2 yards per carry last season, a measure of seizing his limited opportunities.

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