Monday Musings: Knott’s toughness is legendary

AMES — Jake Knott is one of a kind. 

You all know him as Iowa State’s All-Big 12 linebacker, a two-time team captain, 347 career tackles (which ranks 6th all-time in Iowa State history), 10 forced fumbles and the man who is the all-time leader in interceptions among linebackers in Cyclone football history. 

Knott underwent shoulder surgery in Chicago on Monday and his Iowa State career has likely come to an end. The above statistics are great, but here’s how you should remember Jake Knott as an Iowa State Cyclone. 

Knott is the guy who once dislocated his shoulder twice in one game – popped it back in by himself and finished that very contest with a team-high 18 tackles (Baylor in 2011). The very next week at Missouri with a bum shoulder and all, Knott broke his thumb on his first series vs. the Tigers. Of course he played through that too. With a broken thumb and a shoulder that was in bad, bad shape, Knott didn’t miss a game during his junior season. He also came back from broken arm in the spring of 2011. 

Often times over the last couple of years, I’ve joked that Knott is Iowa State’s Chuck Norris. Here are a few examples that are sure to put a smile on your face on this gloomy Monday for the Cyclone Nation. 

Jake Knott once kicked a horse in the chin. Its descendants are known today as giraffes. 

When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he had three missed calls from Jake Knott.

Ghosts sit around the campfire telling Jake Knott stories. 

Some magicians can walk on water. Jake Knott can swim through land. 

We all knew coming into Knott’s senior season that the Waukee native was tough. In fact, I went into Iowa State’s Media Day this August with one story idea in mind. I wanted to learn exactly how tough this guy was. 

That’s when Iowa State’s seasoned defensive coordinator Wally Burnham referred to Knott as the toughest player he has coached in 46 years. 

"He is the toughest I have ever been around, physically and mentally," Burnham said. "You can beat him down but you’re not going to beat him out. He’s got the mindset of, ‘If you’re going to get me out of this game, you’re going to have to kill me.’ That’s about where he is."

In Iowa State’s 35-21 win over Baylor on Saturday, while knowing that it very well might be his final game ever Cyclone uniform, Knott recorded 11 tackles, forced a fumble and was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Week. That’s not a bad way to go out huh?

The pain that Knott had to have felt before, during and after that contest is unimaginary to many. But knowing Knott, the pain he would have felt by (in his mind) not being there for  his teammates and coaches would have been much more unbearable. 

“You can be around a lot of good players and it’s more about them than the team," said Paul Rhoads in his Monday press conference. "He has made it about the team and in the process, taking care of his own business and taking care of that very well. He’s special to me because he was the first guy that I got a commitment from as a head football coach.” 

"Anything that you can name, that’s what Jake Knott brought to the team," added defensive back Deon Broomfield. 

Stats make Jake Knott an Iowa State Hall of Famer. But his characteristics that don’t show up in the box scores are what make him an instant Iowa State legend. Knott is one of the classiest athletes I’ve ever covered. He always looks you in the eye. His handshakes are firm. He’s what every father hopes his son will be. 

Stories like what went down on Saturday night are what books are written about. 

From day one, Knott’s story is a picture perfect example of what being an Iowa Stater is all about. Coming out of high school, he had a few MAC offers but nothing more. In fact, Knott nearly ended up choosing baseball over football at the collegiate level. Paul Rhoads made the offer. Without flinching, Knott gladly accepted it. He’s been the face of Iowa State football ever since. 

Enough with the Chuck Norris jokes. Chuck Norris doesn’t have anything on Jake Knott.