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Courtesy: Athletics Communications

2011 Spring Football Outlook: Linebackers

Release: 03/17/2011
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Editor's note: This is the sixth of an eight-part series taking a quick look at the Iowa State football team position by position heading into spring practice. A review of the linebacker position is below. Click the "play" link in the photo above to see an interview with head coach Paul Rhoads. Links to other position breakdowns can be found at the bottom of the page.


Pre-Spring Linebacker Depth Chart

SAM Linebacker
47  **A.J. Klein, 6-1, 244, Jr.
2    Adrian Bennett, 6-2, 215, Fr.#
39  *Matt Morton, 6-0, 207, Jr.#

Middle Linebacker
45  *Matt Tau’ fo’ ‘ou, 5-11, 243, Sr.#
7    *Jeremiah George, 5-11, 222, So.

WILL Linebacker
20  **Jake Knott, 6-2, 243, Jr.
19  Floyd Mattison, 5-10, 200, Fr.#
55  Jevohn Miller, 6-4, 236, Fr.


Jake Knott and A.J. Klein earned All-Big 12 honors with super sophomore seasons that ranks this among the best linebackers in college football this fall. They will be the eye of Iowa State’s defensive storm for the next two seasons. Knott, who was not heavily recruited, underscored Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads’ eye for talent. It was Rhoads who personally offered the outside linebacker a scholarship.  Knott averaged 10.8 tackles per game last season, ranking second in the Big 12 and 12th nationally in that category. Knott had one of the best sophomore seasons in Iowa State history. The Waukee native made 130 tackles, broke up five passes, made four interceptions and forced four fumbles. Knott made 16 tackles at Colorado and broke up three Buffalo passes. He also received honorable mention for the league’s defensive player-of-the-year award. At Oklahoma, Knott made 13 tackles.

Klein, averaged 9.25 tackles per game, ranking him fifth in the Big 12 in that category. The Kimberly, Wis. native made 13 tackles against Oklahoma. He had 12 stops against Kansas State and returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown. The following week against Texas Tech he returned a pick 25 yards for a touchdown to become the first Iowa Stater to return interceptions to the house in consecutive games since 1996.
At middle linebacker Matt Tau’ fo’ ‘ou returns for what all hope to be a healthy season.  He redshirted his first Iowa State season but saw limited action before and after breaking his leg last fall. In five games, he made 13 tackles. Sophomore Jeremiah George contributed on special teams last season and made four tackles.  This season his playing time will get an upgrade. Two freshman are expected to serve with Knott, Floyd Mattison and Jevohn Miller. Both will get individual attention during spring football.

Another freshman, Adrian Bennett, is coming off redshirt and Matt Morton, who had nine tackles against Kansas State last season both will have important springs.

Rhoads on the linebackers:

“I am very positive about the linebacker position. I don’t know anyone other than our coaching staff that expected Jake Knott to have the kind of season he did last year as a true sophomore and a first-year starter. A.J. Klein wasn’t very far behind. These are very good kids who are self-motivated. Jake and A.J. do everything they can to continue to improve as football players and leaders on our team. Their leadership is very important heading into spring ball. Both of them have a lot of room for improvement, a lot of room for development and that’s exciting for our football program.

"Matt Tau’fo’ou comes off another injury season. He redshirted his first year here because of shoulder problems and last year he broke his leg against Iowa and didn’t get a chance to play until late in the season. Jake, A.J. and Matt are three quality linebackers. Jeremiah George comes off a freshman season where he got some exposure. Adrian Bennett and Floyd Mattison come off a redshirt. C.J. Morgan can be out there in the nickel position or a linebacker position, so our depth has improved there. We are led at linebacker by a couple of really fine players, maybe as good as there are in the Big 12.”

Other position breakdowns
- Defensive Line: March 16
- Offensive Line: March 15
- Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: March 14
- Running backs: March 11
- Quarterbacks: March 10

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