Barry McNamara  |  Published April 27, 2022

Senior Profile: Jeff Knapp

Record-setting lacrosse player enjoys leadership role with Fighting Scots.

KNAPP HAS THE KNACK: Record-setting Fighting Scots lacrosse player Jeff Knapp has scored more tha... KNAPP HAS THE KNACK: Record-setting Fighting Scots lacrosse player Jeff Knapp has scored more than 100 goals in his collegiate career.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A typical Monmouth College lacrosse season is around 15 games. Through his first four seasons, the Fighting Scots’ Jeff Knapp only had one typical year – his freshman season in 2018.

That made Knapp’s decision to return to Monmouth for a fifth year an easy one, and he’s glad he did.

“I really wasn’t ready to put my stick down,” said Knapp, who recently netted his 100th collegiate goal. The year before, he passed his coach, Thomas Van Alstine, to become Monmouth’s all-time leading scorer.

JEFF KNAPP: Fifth-year senior captain is Monmouth's all-time leading goal scorer in men's... JEFF KNAPP: Fifth-year senior captain is Monmouth's all-time leading goal scorer in men's lacrosse.“This season has been my favorite one out of any of my seasons, ever,” said Knapp, who serves as a team captain. “During spring break, we cooked meals together every day. I like that we’re friendly enough to want to spend time with each other and train together outside of practice.”

Knapp first picked up a stick when he was five years old and found one while digging through his family’s garage in Nolensville, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. What followed was lots of playing catch with his dad. Knapp used his stick to pass a ball, which his father caught with a baseball glove, then threw back.

Knapp continued to work on his skills through high school, being called up to the varsity as a sophomore and starting to see regular playing time as a junior.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew this was the place for me.” Jeff Knapp

“The coaches saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” said Knapp, who snagged a starting spot his senior year.

Despite his progress, college coaches weren’t exactly stampeding to Ravenwood High School to watch him play.

“I wasn’t that recruited out of high school, but then when I got that first letter from Monmouth, I thought I was going D1,” said Knapp, who initially thought the contact meant he was headed to New Jersey to play at Monmouth University. “But as soon as I stepped on campus, I knew this was the place for me.”

Growing pains

When Knapp arrived on campus in the fall of 2017, the Fighting Scots had just completed their first season of lacrosse. He earned a starting spot right off the bat, posting a stat line of 28 goals and five assists as the Scots went 6-9 in the spring of 2018.

But then came an injury-shortened sophomore season, which saw Knapp play just three games. He was back and ready to go for his junior year, but the promising campaign, which saw the Scots yield just under seven goals per game – was canceled after six contests due to the pandemic.

“I was absolutely ready to go,” said Knapp. “Then, six games in, COVID shut us down. I was the optimistic one, telling the guys that it wouldn’t shut down the whole season. It was a real bummer when it did.”

Last year was a mixed bag, with the pandemic again shortening the season, this time to nine games. But the good news was that the Scots secured their first-ever postseason berth. Along the way, Knapp netted a school-record eight goals – again topping a Van Alstine mark – during a 13-5 win over conference rival Cornell.

Milestone moment

Knapp, who’s posted 36 goals and six assists this season through Monmouth’s April 23 game, was asked what abilities have been helpful as he’s ascended through the lacrosse record book.

“I’ve got one of the harder outside shots on the team,” he said. “I play very physical, which is not that common for an offensive guy. I really like to push it in transition and score quick goals.”

Additionally, he said, his game has evolved during his college career.

“When I first got here, I pretty much had blinders on. I pretty much only saw me and the goal. But now I move the ball well to other people, and the guys trust me to call the right plays. We’ve developed a team offense.”

FULL SPEED AHEAD: Jeff Knapp makes a move to the goal during one of his previous seasons on the F... FULL SPEED AHEAD: Jeff Knapp makes a move to the goal during one of his previous seasons on the Fighting Scots lacrosse team.On March 22, Knapp netted his 100th goal during a 19-1 victory against Concordia-Chicago.

“The guys were just as happy for me as I was,” said Knapp, who added that the event was made more special by Sports Information Director Nathan Baliva announcing the accomplishment immediately over the P.A. “They let me keep the ball. I couldn’t get to the locker room fast enough after the game to call my parents.”

As Knapp prepares for the end of his Scots career, he was asked what’s ahead for him, and if it’s the same career plan he had coming into college.

“Goodness, no,” he replied. “I came in thinking about exercise science and maybe wanting to be a physical trainer.”

Now, however, Knapp plans to be a firefighter.

“My time here has been fantastic. It’s better than I even thought it would be. It would be a dream come true if I have a son one day and he comes here and blows my records out of the water.” Jeff Knapp

“I hope to eventually be a captain or a lieutenant, and the firefighters I talked to back home advised that if that’s what I want to do, it would be good to major in business,” he said. “By staying for a fifth year, I was able to pick up a minor in economics.”

Even though it wasn’t the Monmouth he originally thought, Knapp is grateful he wound up a Fighting Scot, and he’s in a position to steer others in his footsteps.

“I coach middle school kids back home, and I push them to look at Monmouth,” he said. “My time here has been fantastic. It’s better than I even thought it would be. It would be a dream come true if I have a son one day and he comes here and blows my records out of the water.”

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