ISU's Jake Knott is Healthy, Hungry for 2012
By Rob Gray, Reporter
AMES — He’s been tossed aside, run down and literally torn limb from limb.
He’s able to leap tall linemen — sort of — with a few, determined bounds.
He vows to never, ever be outworked.
He’s Jake Knott, Iowa State’s formerly anonymous and now celebrated all-Big 12 Conference linebacker.
And, so far, he appears poised to enter fall camp healthy, which is bad news for this season’s foes.
It’s somewhat novel, too, given the 6-3, 239-pound senior’s hard-hitting history of scrapes, tears, breaks and bruises.
“I feel great,” said Knott, who along with fellow senior A.J. Klein forms the foundation of one of college football’s top linebacking corps.
That word — great — is not one the former Waukee multi-sport standout throws around lightly.
Coming out of high school, he fielded half a handful of Division I football offers and appeared destined for the Iowa baseball program.
Then fate took a hand in the person of Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads, who watched Knott’s highlight video and said, in effect, “We need that guy.”
“A friend of mine (from Ankeny) is actually who made me aware of Jake and sent a DVD,” said Rhoads, then a fledgling head coach rebuilding a program that won a total of five games the previous two seasons. “I got the DVD and evaluated it myself and said, ‘What’s missing here? What’s wrong?’ Followed up with phone calls to Jake, got him on campus and then caught him coming off a visit to another school, football-wise, and offered him a scholarship.”
Knott snapped it up.
Now senior year — game-wise — is less than two months away.
Plenty of work remains between now and then, which is fine with Knott.
“You just try to go out there and prove things to people,” he said. “I’ve done that kind of stuff my whole life and I kind of thrive on proving people wrong.”
Knott’s bulked up about 40 pounds since finishing high school.
He’s now on 2013 NFL Draft boards, projected as a likely middle- to late-round pick.
But he also rolls his eyes a bit when asked if he has “arrived” as a football player.
There’s simply too far left to go — beginning Sept. 1 against Tulsa at Jack Trice Stadium.
“One of the things I’m always thinking about is I’ve got to be the best, but I’ll never be the best kind of thing,” said Knott, who nonetheless ranked in the top 50 nationally in tackles last season (8.9 per game) while playing through multiple injuries, including a torn labrum in his left shoulder. “So I’ve got to work all the time. Whatever I’ve got to do to somehow, all right, get 10 more pounds on the bench press — that will help me during the season.
“Or if I’ve got to stay two extra hours doing recovery stuff, stretching and ice baths and all that stuff, I’ll have to do it. And what gets you through tough times and the extra hours and all that stuff is thinking, ‘I don’t care what anybody else says. I’m going to show you I’m going to be better than you.’ I think that’s a good attitude to have.”
Chip on his shoulder?
You don’t know Jake.
“A very positive guy; a very warm guy,” said Cyclone junior linebacker Jeremiah George. “Very funny — we all have inside jokes that we share with each other. He’s very well-respected around our team and around this campus. His character is, by far, some of the best character I’ve been around in my entire life.”
Note: Look for a more in-depth feature on Knott later this month at TheGazette.com, and in the print version of the newspaper.
What's On KCRG