'Tough nut' at ISU working through injury

Last Thursday, Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott dove to trip up a streaking Shontrelle Johnson at practice two days before the Cyclones' spring game.

"A great effort play," said coach Paul Rhoads.

But on the dive, Knott's arm and Johnson's legs got twisted and Knott heard the dreaded pop.

"I knew right then I broke my arm," he said.

Added Rhoads: "You can see the pain immediately overcome him on film. Just a freak type of play."

Twenty-four hours later, Knott was back on the practice field. On Friday afternoon, Knott had surgery and was discharged from the hospital at about 5 p.m.

He got in the car with his mom and made a simple request for their first destination.

"I turn around in practice on Friday and he’s standing there on the sidelines. I walk over, he’s with his mom and I say, 'What are you doing here?'" Rhoads said. "He looks me in the eye and says, 'We got practice, don’t we?'"

Knott made 131 tackles, third in the Big 12 last season, and was recently named one of the Cyclones' captains. Though he couldn't take part in practice, he saw value in being on the field, amid questions similar to what Rhoads posed.

"Some of [my teammates] were just in shock, like, 'Didn’t you just have surgery?'" Knott said. "If you’re a leader, you can’t take a day off, even if you’re injured. You’ve got to get to practice and encourage guys to work harder and get better this spring so we can get back and win a bowl game in 2011."

By Monday, Knott was back in the weight room working everything but his broken right arm. He can already do lower body lifts, but he's also working the left arm.

"Jake is one tough nut," Rhoads said.

Doctors said Knott can be back to full strength in seven weeks at the latest, but because the break was clean and surgery progressed well, it's more likely he could be ready five weeks from today, well in time for fall camp in August.

Knott's status as a captain made it clear he already had his team's respect for his efforts on the field, off it and in the locker room. After showing up on Friday, it's hard to imagine what else he could do to earn any more respect.

"I just want to help the team out any way I can," Knott said, "even if I can’t practice."