AMES — He called it a “packet”, but it became something like a sacred text for Iowa State linebacker Luke Knott as he trekked through training camp as a redshirt freshman.
Big brother Jake’s binder burst with knowledge and detail — 20-25 double-sided pages of wisdom, crafted with love.
It was a rip-roaring yarn; a blueprint for success “little” Knott pored over, again and again, preparing for his first snap, and now his first start, against Iowa (1-1) in Saturday’s 5 p.m. Cy-Hawk Series rivalry game at sold out Jack Trice Stadium.
“If I have a question, I can just flip to that packet and there it is, boom, whatever page he has it on,” Luke Knott said.
An appropriate sound.
Jake Knott made his NFL debut with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night and emerged from a big bird pile with a recovered Washington onside kick, sealing a win.
Just nine days earlier he’d watched Luke play his first competitive series for ISU (0-1) in the season-opening loss to Northern Iowa.
Within those first few on-the-field opportunities lurked a pass breakup.
By the end of the otherwise distressing game for Cyclone fans, Knott had compiled six tackles.
He fit gaps.
He made plays.
He’s a Knott, though 10-15 pounds lighter than Jake was at this stage in his ISU career.
“I thought he played a really good game even though the score wasn’t what we wanted,” said Jake, who’s leap, tip and interception sealed the Cyclones’ 9-6 win over the Hawkeyes last season. “He went out there his redshirt freshman year playing linebacker, which he’d never done in his life.”
For good reason.
Luke Knott — recruited to ISU as a safety — shined as a quarterback in high school, helping Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West to a state title as a junior and throwing for 379 yards while rushing for 205 in a semifinal loss as a senior.
“They didn’t let (him) play defense,” Rhoads said. “He wasn’t a Division I quarterback. We figured based on what we’d seen in the past he had the mentality to play defense. When he played in summer 7 on 7s and things like that, he’d intercept three passes a game. So he had a nose for the ball. Then he both outgrew and got outran at the safety position. So he became a linebacker.”
Now, a starting one.
I’m pretty excited about it,” Knott said. “A chance to go out there against a great opponent like Iowa. It should be a lot of fun.”
It remains to be seen if “little” Knott shows a flair for the dramatic like big brother did.
But he plays enough like him that Cyclone defensive coordinator Wally Burnham is sometimes still heard shouting “Jake” on the practice field.
“Every once in a while you get those kind of guys and he’s that kind of guy,” Burnham said during camp. “He’s just got to get bigger and stronger. Best thing he does, besides his smartness, is his speed. He’s faster than Jake was.”
It all starts with the “smartness.”
The packet only augmented that already engrained trait.
Growth becomes the next quality to rise to the top of the checklist — and may form the preface to a packet that’s “by” not “for” Luke Knott.
“Make sure you know what you’re doing, make sure you know where your help is,” Knott said about his demeanor on the field. “If we’re all on the same page, then you get a lot of production out of your defense.”
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