AMES — For one week in January, it seemed like old times for former Iowa State standout linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein.
They worked out in preparation for the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, side by side, in Pensacola, Florida.
Brothers again, sharing the same dream — excelling in front of pro bigwigs at the ultimate showcase for draft-bound players, which runs through Tuesday.
Linebackers do most of their physical drills on Monday.
“It was good to have somebody there that you know and you’re best friends with,” said Knott, who is training in Ames while remaining on target for a spring graduation with a degree in business management. “It’s good to have someone from your walk of life that’s going through the same situation — the same stress level.”
Both Knott and Klein are projected to be drafted between the fourth and six rounds and would become the Cyclones’ first linebackers selected since Alvin Bowen was taken in the fifth round by Buffalo in 2008.
Knott, ISU’s sixth all-time leading tackler, said he’s fully recovered from last season’s shoulder surgery, but must be cleared by doctors at the combine and will participate in interviews and mental work at Indianapolis.
Klein, the fourth most prolific tackler in Cyclone history, plans to complete all workouts at the combine.
“I’m working on all the things everybody’s doing — the 40, technique, strength, explosion,” Klein said over the phone. “Training’s going well.”
Knott’s draft stock took a modest hit when he needed late October shoulder surgery.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had him pegged as a fourth-round pick heading into the 2012 season, but has since projected him as a likely fifth- or sixth-round selection because of injury issues.
And that’s fine with Knott.
“It gets me excited to say, you know what, you were wrong about me, just like past teams coming out of high school,” said Knott, a former two-star prospect from Waukee who likely would have played baseball for Iowa if Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads hadn’t offered a scholarship. “They said I wasn’t going to be big enough, wasn’t going to be fast enough, yadda, yadda, yadda. Now, it’s changed a little bit. ... All you need is an opportunity, a chance, and that’s what I’m looking for. I know when I get that, I’ll do the best with it.”
Klein entered college as a three-star recruit — a face among the D-1 linebacking crowd.
Kiper sees him as a possible fourth-rounder and likes his athleticism, which Klein says he can markedly improve.
“With proper technique and proper leg drive you can easily shave tenths off the 40,” Klein said. “It’s just are you going to put in the work and that sort of things. It’s monotonous at times, but in the long run, everything that you do in training, it pays off.”
Both Klein and Knott demonstrated that throughout their ISU careers.
Now they must display it for scouts — on the field and off of it.
Knott said he expects to do all his physical work at the Cyclones’ pro day in March.
Until then, it’s about Q and A ... and not obsessing over potential curveballs.“There’s lots of guys that practice all the questions, do all of that,” Knott said. “But I don’t plan on doing that. I plan on being myself and giving them a true depiction of who I am.”