After a summer tour of the North Carolina baseball program, which included meeting head baseball coach Mike Fox and associate head coach Scott Forbes, Knief received the Tar Heel scholarship offer he’d been waiting for.
"I was really excited -- I wanted to be a Tar Heel all my life,” said Knief, who opted for UNC over such schools as Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. “It was a dream come true."
Knief, who will concentrate full time on baseball at North Carolina, is a five-tool player on the diamond according to his coach.
"He played left the past year and will be moving to center field this season,” Don Bosco head coach Greg Butler said of his 6-foot, 185-pound star outfielder. “He was our number three hitter. He is a prototype three hitter - makes excellent contact, does not strike out a lot, he hits the ball well to all fields and has some power and has some pop in his bat. He has a nice approach at the plate.
“When he faces the best pitching around -- that is when he steps up."
Case in point, when Knief faced Rick Porcello in the 2007 state tournement. Porcello was one of the nation’s top-ranked pitching prospects and after committing to UNC, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the ’07 MLB draft and received a record signing bonus.
Knief sent a Porcello fastball over the wall.
"I did not feel that it was that big of a deal about hitting a home run off of him, but that I went 3-for-4 off of him,” Knief said. “It was not just a fluke that I got one lucky hit off of him, but I could show that I could hit off of some of the best pitchers in the country."
Perfect Game ranks Knief among its national Top 250 list for the 2009 graduating class, noting his arm strength and “excellent hitting tools.” His Perfect Game evaluation at the 2008 National Showcase graded him as a top Division I prospect and a potential high round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.
"If a team was going to get me not to go to North Carolina they would have to give me life changing money because as of right now I am pretty set on being a Tar Heel," Knief said.
"I am on the web site almost every day to look at the [Boshamer Stadium] construction. I visited before the demolition. I am very excited about playing for the Tar Heels. I want to get on the field as early as possible - I am going to do everything in my power to get on the field my freshman year. I want to get a business degree in finance and see where life takes me - if it is on the diamond, it is on the diamond; if it is on Wall Street, I will take that."
Knief spent this past summer on a prestigious summer wooden bat travel team alongside fellow UNC commitment Tim Brechbuehler.
“It was great playing with the South Florida Bandits this past summer,” Knief said. “It worked out pretty good for me and was a really good experience in the Wood Bat Championships in Atlanta. I knew of Tim Brechbuehler before joining the Bandits, but me and Tim have become pretty good friends and we have been talking ever since he committed."
They expect to be roommates at UNC next fall.
But right now Knief’s focus is on football, where he’s continuing Don Bosco’s tradition of elite quarterbacks – and championships.
“His junior year he did not lose a game, they were 33-0 in baseball and 12-0 in football,” Butler said. “The kid is a winner - he is a big factor in the success of both programs."