COMMENTARY: Knott’s collegiate career concluded too soon


Jake Knott talks to coaches Paul Rhoads and Wally Burnham during the game against Baylor on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Jack Trice Stadium. Knott recorded 11 tackles during the Homecoming game.

Jake Calhoun

Even as a member of the media, I’ve always rooted for Jake Knott.

He never came off as cocky, never walked with brashness in his step, never carried himself in an unpleasing manner.

Knott was always a pleasure to work with, even when he didn’t have much to say.

On Wednesday, Knott addressed the media for the first time since his shoulder surgery, confirming all our fears that his playing career as an ISU Cyclone has ended.

ISU coach Paul Rhoads said Monday there might be a possibility that Knott could return if Iowa State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) should make it to a bowl game. However, Knott himself was hesitant to be as optimistic.

“Judging by what they had to do, I’d say as of right now, yeah it would probably end up ruling me out just to be safe,” Knott said. “If something crazy happened and I recovered in a way that was unheard of, then I could possibly make it back.

“But right now, I wouldn’t say that it’s a distinct possibility.”

The ISU community is weeping because of the loss and even though the team will move on without Knott, his absence creates a huge void.

During his three seasons as a starter, Knott has accounted for 12.8 percent of the team’s total tackles — one full percent more than fellow linebacker and Knott’s close counterpart A.J. Klein.

While Knott wouldn’t ever reject help from his teammates, he was never a slouch when getting things on his own as well. For every assisted tackle he made in cardinal and gold, Knott made almost twice as many solo tackles (1.65:1).

Without Knott, Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg’s pass during a late drive probably would have connected for an eventual game-winning score for the Hawkeyes against the Cyclones in Iowa City this past September.

Without Knott, Baylor and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III probably would have rushed for 500 yards in 2011 — Knott had 18 tackles despite having dislocated his shoulder twice in that game.

While Rhoads was the architect for multiple upsets of ranked teams — including No. 2 Oklahoma State last November — in his three-plus years at Iowa State, Knott left his handprints all over those blueprints.

When Knott teared up eight minutes into his 11-minute news conference on Wednesday, nobody said a word. We waited, trying to imagine the severity of emotions running through his mind at that point or even during the past few days.

None of us could comprehend it. This is a kid who came to Iowa State as a lean defensive back that was transformed into one of the most destructive linebackers in the country.

The work he put into these past four years cannot be quantified in hours at the gym or reps in practice. They can’t be boiled down to the number of heartbeats or rushes of adrenaline through his body out on the field.

That’s why we feel for Jake Knott — of anyone to have sustained a season-ending injury, he was the last person it should have happened to.

And that’s exactly why I’m rooting for him.

Jake Calhoun is a senior in journalism from Urbandale, Iowa.