Luke Knott will see a hip specialist Thursday to try to figure out what exactly is wrong with an injury that flared up during fall camp and grew so bad by late October he could no longer play.
"I don't want to get into the specifics of it just cause there's not a clear-cut answer right now but there's a lot of pain in my hip and it's caused me to not be as effective as I need to be or want to be," Knott said Monday evening.
Surgery will follow, meaning the weakside linebacker will miss spring ball, a blow to a player still in the developmental stage of his career, considered by the coaches to be a key defensive building block.
"I'm trying to focus all the negative aspects into positive energy, a motivational tool for me this whole offseason," Knott said. "Getting the game you love stripped away from ya, using that as fuel, you could say, for the 2014 season."
Knott began the season as the backup to Jevohn Miller at WLB but earned the starting gig in time for the Iowa game.
Despite sitting out the last two games, the redshirt freshman remains fourth on the team with 45 total tackles.
"I won't give [my season] a clear-cut grade, there's always room for improvement," Knott said. "There's plenty of games where if I did a few different things I could have had a lot better season. Everybody on our team has room for improvement."
Knott will take advice from his older brother Jake, whose ISU career ended prematurely with a shoulder injury in 2012. Jake was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
"He told me I'm gonna come back better than ever," Luke said. "Kind of like how he did."