"AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to tackle every motherfucker in the room? Accept no substitutes."
Seems like as good a day as any to focus on Iowa State's own AK-47 - A.J. Klein.
This year, the linebacking corps is one of the genuinely bright spots on the team. Even the Texas-centric Big 12 blog on ESPN ranked Iowa State's Linebackers 2nd in the conference behind Oklahoma. And honestly, it's with good reason. Iowa State boasts a trio of great starting linebackers this year. Patrolling the Right Side of the field will most likely be Team Co-Captain and Multiple Pre-Season Award List Nominee Jake Knott. On the Left Side, It could be the name that ESPN2's sideline announcers are most likely to mispronounce during the UConn game: Matt Tau'fo'fu.
But in the center? Junior Ball-Hawking safety AJ Klein steals the show. He's a little flashier and not quite at the same level as workhorse Knott, but aside from recording 111 tackles and three picks last year, he managed to do stuff like this:
*Sorry, for some reason I can't get it to link to the exact time the clip starts. Fast-Forward to 1:05 for the good stuff.*
3 interceptions, 2 touchdowns. Nothing like having a 66% conversion rate and 100 all-purpose yards as a freaking linebacker. Last year against UNI he had both a Fumble Recovery and a Pick Six in the same game. Opportunistic doesn't begin to describe this guy.
If Iowa State is going to have a chance at a bowl game this year (which, to be fair, is probably a best case scenario considering our history, this year's schedule, and the absolute gauntlet that playing the entire Big XII is going to be), then AK47 is going to have to have at least one big day, and probably at least one pick-six. For a team that has to rely on it's "heart" and "scrappiness" all-to-often because of a talent gap with some of the richer schools in the conference, opportunistic scores can be the key to winning the closer games.