AMES — Iowa State senior linebacker A.J. Klein spent last weekend in the woods.
A frustrating weekend.
“Unfortunately no deer,” the Kimberly, Wis., native said Sunday while talking about his team’s berth in the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl. “So I’ll have to go without venison in my freezer for a while.”
Klein’s football trophy haul has expanded, however.
Wednesday, he was one of three Cyclones named to the Big 12’s all-conference first team, along with injured linebacker Jake Knott and nose tackle Jake McDonough.
Knott, a senior who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, was a second-team selection last season.
Klein — ISU’s seventh all-time leading tackler with 342 career stops — was a co-defensive player of the year in 2011.
“I’ve seen some of the most highly-touted middle linebackers,” said Knott, ISU’s sixth all-time leading tackler with 347 takedowns. “I’ve watched them on film and I’ve watched him on film and there’s really not much difference at all.”
Cyclone punter Kirby Van Der Kamp earned second team honors, along with safety Durrell Givens.
Carter Bykowski (OL), Roosevelt Maggitt (DL), Jeremy Reeves (DB), and Jacques Washington (DB) were honorable mention selections.
ISU (6-6) plays Tulsa (10-3) in the Liberty Bowl.
The Cyclones beat the Golden Hurricane 38-23 in the season opener.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN.“We’re excited wherever we get to go,” said Klein, who will play in his third bowl game.