Klein’s heart for helping others fits in perfectly at Kansas State
If he had his druthers, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein would be just a small part of the mosaic of a great team. Just another piece of the beautiful machinery that makes a talented team click and purr.
Well, the Colorado native and already-graduated senior has gotten part of his wish.
With the 2012 season set to hit its November stretch run, the Wildcats are flying as high as ever, ranked No. 4 in the country and squarely in the hunt for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
That anonymity thing? Not working out so well for the 6-foot-5, 226-pound QB.
In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Not only is Klein the face of K-State’s program and the second wave of resurgence under coach Bill Snyder, the Wildcats signal-caller and Senior CLASS Award candidate has surged to the front of the line of Heisman Trophy candidates.
Seems that’s what happens when you rack up 364 yards and have a hand in seven touchdowns against West Virginia and have accounted for roughly 67% of your team’s total offense.
Now Klein is one of the more recognizable faces in the country, to the point where ESPN has tagged him with the nickname ‘Optimus Klein,’ a play off a primary character from the movie ‘Transformers.’
As cool as all of that sounds, it seems almost overwhelming to the finance major who is just as content playing the piano, mandolin or violin as he is watching Sports Center.
“It’s surreal for me to even think about myself in terms of the Heisman Trophy when you think of all the guys who have won it,” Klein said.
Turns out Klein could’ve just as well have said it’s hard for him to think about himself to describe what he’s done off the field in Manhattan and back home in Loveland, Colo.
Yeah, the football statistics are eye-catching: 1,948 total yards, 14 rushing touchdowns (tied for the Big 12 Conference lead), 10 passing TDs and only two interceptions. And of course the Cats’ 7-0 record is the most important number to him.
Peel away some of the layers, though, and there’s a lot more to Klein than what you see in his No. 7 jersey on Saturdays.
For all the hours Klein spends on the football field preparing, the Wildcats’ three-year captain devotes that many or more to giving back.
Whether it’s FCA meetings, reading to local school children, helping organize charities in conjunction with Adopt-a-Family or lending a hand with Special Olympics, Klein is around somewhere – this time in the background where he wants to be and not on center stage.
“There’s a feeling that you can get when you help other people that’s just amazing,” Klein said. “Sometimes it’s the most amazing feeling when it costs you the most. That’s not something I always understand as a human but I accept because of my Christian beliefs.
“The feeling that you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life is so rewarding because to me it feels like they gave me more than I gave them.
That kind of thinking meshes well with Snyder, the longtime coach who is credited with bringing the Wildcats to life after he arrived in 1988 and reviving the magic the last few seasons.
Klein came to K-State when former coach Ron Prince was running the show, but there was never a question about whether he’d stay after his first meeting with Snyder.
“Coach’s heart is to help other people, and right there is a huge connection that I feel to him and what this program is all about,” Klein said. “I knew it when I got to K-State, that there was no doubt that people are amazing here. They truly want to help you and that fits with how I want to live.”