Klein is K-State's cover boy
Klein is K-State's cover boy
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — Nobody should be surprised to see Collin Klein on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated, least of all Klein himself.
It's a moment he has prepared for all his life.
"We were always playing diving catches — it's a game we played in the basement — where one guy would throw it and the other one would dive on the pillows and catch it," said Kyle Klein, a redshirt freshman receiver for Kansas State and younger brother of the Wildcats' senior quarterback. "We had Sports Illustrated covers hung up in the basement.
"Of course we dreamed of it. Now, it actually happening is a whole other story."
Like everything else swirling around him during this dream season, Collin Klein is taking it all in stride. As the face of a 10-0 K-State team ranked second nationally in both major polls and No. 1 in the latest BCS standings, he also has spent several weeks as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner.
Thus the SI cover.
"It's pretty cool," Klein admitted Tuesday. "You always see that kind of stuff growing up and what have you, but at the same time I'm just trying to take care of my and our business here and trying to take one more step."
Through the first 10 games — the Wildcats play at Baylor at 7 p.m. Saturday and close out the regular season at home with Texas on Dec. 1 — Klein has been the unquestioned leader of the Wildcat offense. Through his 2,020 passing and 748 rushing yards, he has accounted for 65.7 percent of the team's 4,211 total yards and had a hand in 66 percent of the offensive touchdowns.
But if Klein has demonstrated one thing above all else — besides his physical toughness on the field — it's his ability to keep it real. On Tuesday morning, while speaking to a group at Bergman Elementary School, he was surprised with an award recognizing him as a member of the American Football Coaches Association's Good Works Team.
Klein was named to the Good Works Team in September.
"It was a tremendous honor," Klein said of the recognition. "I know it's pretty amazing and pretty cool what Allstate does trying to recognize people who have served.
"I'm blessed to be given this perspective by parents and through my faith and coaches and whatever, and when you do serve and try to help people out, it's never with any thought of being recognized or any of that part of it."
When it comes to his teammates, no doubt the Sports Illustrated cover carries the greater cache. Senior wide receiver Chris Harper clearly was impressed when he realized it wasn't a mock-up.
"That was real?" he said. "I thought it was photo-shopped.
"That's nice. I've got to get one of those. That's pretty big."
Big, perhaps, but not in a big-headed way.
"People are giving us attention now, but he's the most humble dude you'll ever meet," Harper said of Klein. "It's not going to get to his head or anything like that.
"He's probably going to come out and play better, play stronger and prove all those guys right what they're saying about him now."
Klein knows he'll hear about it from his teammates, probably in the form of good-natured ribbing.
"I'm sure there will be some jokes and we'll have fun with it as a team," he said. "As the guys we'll have fun with it, whatever that looks like.
"At the same time I think the heart behind that from all of our perspectives and whoever the publicity is being focused on at that time, we all know it's about us. It's about what we're trying to do, it's about us trying to be the best that we can possibly be, and we're all just trying to enjoy the ride, myself included."
Nobody is enjoying Klein's success more than brother Kyle, who has seen limited action in a deep and talented Wildcat receiving corps.
"It's honestly been fantastic and it's really been symbolic of the K-State family," said Kyle, who also roomed with his brother until Collin got married over the summer. "It's been a group of 130 guys all working together and obviously Collin has been a special person to me and always will be.
"But I'd say that in and of itself is very symbolic of our success here at K-State and it has just been an absolute blast to watch and be a part of."
Nobody knows better just how unaffected Collin Klein has been by the hoopla.
"Actually he's the one who's reminding everyone else that he's still on the ground," Kyle said. "Honestly, I don't know how he does it with everything that's been going on and the success that he has had and the success that God has given him.
"But he's done a fantastic job on and off the field and I can honestly tell you that the guy you see in front of the media is the guy he really is."