Brendan Mott’s emergence as a critical member of Kansas State’s defensive line didn’t happen overnight. He didn’t so much burst onto the scene this fall as will his way into the Wildcats’ rotation as a pass-rushing end.
That is until Saturday’s 48-31 K-State victory at West Virginia, when he was simply too good and too disruptive to ignore.
Not only did Mott make his seventh start of the season against the Mountaineers, but had a day to remember with career highs of eight tackles and three sacks. The three sacks doubled his season and career totals while moving him into second on the team with six, just 1.5 behind all-Big 12 end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
“Mott is playing at a really high level,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. “He’s doing a great job.
“(Opposing offenses) are trying to double Felix and Eli (Huggins, senior nose guard) and he’s the beneficiary of it. I’m just excited to see him do that.”
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Mott, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior, did not go unnoticed by the Big 12 either, as he was named the conference defensive player of the week.
“It’s fun going out there, especially with our linebackers and (defensive backs), everyone having fun,” said Mott, a former walk-on from Iowa City. “Everyone has each other’s back and we’re all balling out, so to finally be able to show what I can do and have a chance after all this hard work, it’s awesome.”
While Saturday’s performance stood out, Mott has been steady contributor all season, getting his first start in place of an injured Nate Matlack in the Big 12 opener at Oklahoma. Matlack has since returned to the lineup, but has found it difficult to bump Mott out of the starting role.
“(I’m) just doing the same thing every week,” Mott said. “Going to practice Monday through Thursday and paying attention to the details and watching film and trusting our coaches and the game plan that they have set up for us.”
After appearing in one game as a redshirt freshman in 2020, Mott battled injuries all last year. His only game action came against LSU in the Texas Bowl.
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But coaches and teammates alike singled Mott out in the spring and then in preseason camp as one of the Wildcats’ most improved defenders.
“Brendan Mott has really stepped up, and you can ask our players,” defensive ends coach Buddy Wyatt said. “Ask them and they’ll tell you (he had) a really good spring, so he’s been doing really well.”
Mott, whose Iowa City West High School team went 21-3 his junior and senior years, isn’t the first member of his family to make a name for himself on the football field. His father Joe Mott was an all-Big Ten defensive end at Iowa and went on to play professionally with the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.
Brendan Mott said there is no secret formula for his own success.
“Just keep working on the pass rush, trying different things,” he said. “Working the game inside of the game.
“It’s just so detailed that (you) just keep working, and if you keep doing that, I guess sometimes it will go your way.”
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K-State, which is 8-3 overall and second in the Big 12 at 6-2, needs one more thing to go its way this Saturday in the regular-season finale against Kansas (6-5, 3-5). Win the Sunflower Showdown, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and the Wildcats fill play TCU in the Big 12 championship game.
“It’s going to be a fun one,” Mott said. “It’s going to be a wild one.
“We need a really good week of preparation, and I’m excited for next Saturday.”
Arne Green is based in Salina and covers Kansas State University sports for the Gannett network. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @arnegreen.