Q&A with ISU's Knott after NFL Combine workout

Linebacker talks about his own performance, how friend A.J. Klein fared

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AMES — Former Iowa State standout linebacker Jake Knott spent last weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine under the microscope, if not under the gun.

The Cyclones’ sixth all-time leading tackler with 347 career stops saw his surgically-repaired shoulder examined and cleared by each professional team’s doctors at Indianapolis.

“It was definitely a great experience to be able to do that,” said Knott, a projected mid- to late-round NFL Draft pick. “Also very exhausting because you have to be on all the time. You never know who’s watching.”

Or listening.

There were interviews galore, but Knott won’t partake in hyped physical drills such as the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical leap until ISU’s March 26 pro day.

“It’s nice to be able to focus just on pro day,” he said.

Knott spoke about the combine experience, friend and longtime teammate A.J. Klein’s performance, graduating this spring and more in a recent interview.

Q: How eye-opening is the combine experience?

A: “A lot of those guys I was around didn’t do quite as well as they thought they were going to do because they were worn out and that’s part of the combine. They want to put you in a situation you’re not used to — see how you react.”

Q: Some have said in the past the combine makes them feel like herded cattle. Any of that feeling for you?

A: “I think you kind of realize that for these teams, you’re a piece of their puzzle and if they’re going to put an investment in you, they expect everything from the mental and physical and the medical side to check out well. You realize you do have to check out well because now you’re part of that investment, you are the investment.”

Q: Cleared medically with flying colors, as expected?

A: “Yeah, everything was good to go. A lot of doctors were kind of impressed with how stable it was and how much range of motion I did have while still maintaing all the stability.”

Q: Weirdest combine moment/situation?

A: “You go through the interview process with a lot of these coaches and you talk to them now, some of them will try to play games with you. Some will be a tough guy and all that. And I’m sure if I got to know them more, you realize they’re just regular guys and just kind of messing around with you, or messing around with whoever they were talking to.”

Q: To see how you respond with a coach in your face?

A: “Exactly. They want to test that. Are you going to be the type of player that confronts a coach or are you going to respect authority? Just how you react to those certain situations — seeing if you’re the type of player they want to coach.”

Q: Former teammate A.J. Klein (also expected to be a mid- to late-round pick) ran a quick 40 (4.66, sixth among prospective linebackers). Anything he displayed surprise you?

A: “I knew he could do that. A lot of people underestimate what we can do here because we didn’t win 11 games or something like that. We don’t get the benefit of the doubt. From being around A.J. and seeing how hard he works all the time, there was no doubt in my mind he’d go out and run a time like that.”

Q: How has the juggle of training, eating ultra-clean and remaining on target to graduate this spring toughened you up further?

A: “Sounds pretty simple on paper, huh? Just going to keep grinding away at it and doing what I’m told to do by (ISU assistant strength and conditioning coach) Clayton Oyster, who’s been training me right now here at Iowa State. Hopefully on pro day is when I peak. So far, it’s been going extremely well. ... That’s where I get the extra energy, hopefully by proving people wrong and doing what I know I can do and being successful at it.”

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