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Battle In The Trenches
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 04/27/2000
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April 27, 2000

By Mike Kreiger, WSU Sports Information

Being an offensive lineman isn't glamorous, but for Washington State tackle Billy Knots, it has its advantages.

A redshirt freshman from Vancouver, Wash., Knots knows that linemen do not get the accolades other players get. Unfortunately, the only time linemen get their own spotlight is when there is a holding or offsides penalty.

"You don't get the glory you'd get at other positions, but at the same time, you get to play a game that nobody else gets to play," Knots said with a huge smile. "Quarterbacks and wide receivers play catch. We get to play fist-up war down below. We get the opportunity to physically dominate a guy every play. No other position gets that opportunity, and I think what we get from that makes it worth not getting the fame."

Knots played football for Columbia River High, and the linemen were a tight group. He feels the same will happen here at WSU.

"In high school, our O-line, we were all best friends, and still are to this day," Knots said. "The O-line here, especially this spring, has really gelled and formed a family. We all have each other's backside and we're all looking out for each other 100 percent of the time. We have an understanding that if you bust your (butt), we'll come out on top most of the time."

Another pleasure linemen get, Knots said, is watching the skilled position players perform well and stay healthy.

"We're all a team out there," Knots said. "We love our quarterback, and we don't want to see anything happen to him. We always want to see our running backs do well, too. We want to support and make our guys look good."

Knots got the chance to play with the first team this spring when starter Phil Locker went down with an injury.

"I had to step up and take some plays, and I felt it was a huge responsibility, " Knots said. "I didn't want to be the weak-link in the line. There's a lot of pride that goes into our offensive line."

With the promotion to starting left tackle during spring scrimmages, Knots felt he had more work to do than ever before.

"The coaches, especially coach McDonell, were great," Knots said. "They weren't going to get on me too much if I made a rookie mistake, but at the same time, it's the first O-line. You've got to get the job done with no excuses."

Knots has high expectations for himself entering this season.

"I want to contribute to our team's success," Knots said. "I want to get plays and represent for our O-line. Me and Phil (Locker) are going to make the left tackle position real strong next year. We're going to work and compete against each other and make each other better."

Both of Knots parents, Lonnie and Patty Knots, graduated from WSU in 1976. Knots said they are both "True Cougs." He knew from an early age he was going to attend and play football for the Cougars.

"I remember watching the 1992 Apple Cup," Knots recalled. "It was so amazing watching Drew Bledsoe beat the Huskies in the snow. I was a little kid, and didn't really know the rules of the game, but I remember going nuts watching that game with my dad."

Knots' father is his role model, and he's changing his jersey number from 62 to 71, his dad's high school number.

"I want to be like my dad," Knots said. "He has done so much for me growing up, from playing catch to going to all of my games. He was a good athlete and a good citizen."

Another close friend of Knots is Brett Pierce, a high school teammate and now tight end for Stanford. They always went against each other in practice, and their hard work has led both of them to playing football in the Pac-10.

"We've got a little rivalry going," Knots said with a confident laugh. "Playing Stanford next year is going to be fun. I don't ever want to lose to Stanford. If we (win) against Stanford, he's going to hear all about it."

A defensive end in high school, Knots misses sacking quarterbacks.

"Defense is awesome," Knots said. "I loved playing defense in high school. It's a great time to just go crazy."

Although Knots played both sides of the ball in high school, he doesn't think it would be wise to do at the college level.

"It would hinder your performance," Knots said. "Specializing on one position makes you a better player.

Knots downplays the "dumb lineman" stereotype with his work in the classroom. Graduating with a high school GPA of 3.3, he was also involved with other extracurricular activities besides sports. Knots was a State DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) qualifier, as well as the Activities Coordinator for his school. Along with football, he played basketball and track.

"I played a lot of basketball, and that taught me to stay consistent and work hard," Knots said. "Track was a great time for the `Fat Kids' (the O-line) to have a good time in the shot pit, have barbecues, and get ready for football."

Now that he's living his childhood dream of playing for the Cougars, Knots looks forward to playing for the next four years.

"This is a great opportunity to go to school here at WSU and be a Cougar," Knots said.

This is also a great opportunity for WSU to have a quality, hard-working person like Knots representing the school by proudly wearing the Cougars' crimson and gray.

Washington State Cougars Cougar Athletic Fund