Klein’s Rise: Not a Surprise

13 Oct

Photo by Jeff Tuttle / AP

Doug Klein can remember the exact day and place when he first thought that his son Collin could play Division I football.

On Sundays, the Klein family would go to church, and then the boys would settle in on the couch to watch NFL games. At halftime, they’d go play catch in the front yard. This day, Collin was the receiver and Doug was the quarterback. As a 6- or 7-year-old, Collin already knew what a slant route was, and a hitch, and a stop-and-go, and a fly, and a flag and a post – all those routes. But one of his catches in particular caught his dad’s attention.

“He ran a square-in route, and I threw him the ball, and it was a catch that you rarely see that’s even made in high school, where you reach out, you catch the ball with your hands, you look it in, all of the technical aspects of it,” said Doug, who coached for several years at the high school and collegiate levels.

“I said to myself at that point, ‘If the Lord has this planned for Collin, and it’s in his heart to do it, he can play Division I football, and he’ll do it if he wants it and if the Lord has it mapped out for him.’ And we just let it go from there. I knew he possessed the skill sets necessary to do. It was just a matter of whether the Lord would put it together for him and if it was a passion the Lord put on his heart to do. And obviously all of those pieces fell into place and here he is.”

One tough kid

With the hits the Kansas State starting quarterback has shrugged off this season on the way to rushing nearly 100 yards per game, there has been lots of talk about his toughness. His parents say that attribute is nothing new.

When he played basketball in elementary school, Collin had issues with the arches of his feet, and the doctors recommended aggressive, deep-tissue massage and bathing his feet in ice. As one might be able to imagine, that is not a pleasant treatment. In fact, it’s extremely painful. But even as a fourth- or fifth-grade kid, he had the physical and mental toughness to do what needed to be done to fix the problem, his dad said.

During his junior year of high school, Collin sustained an ankle injury during a football game. The X-ray showed no breakage, so after different treatments over the course of two weeks, Collin returned to the field, played out the rest of the season and led his team to the state championship game. Two weeks after that, basketball season started, but something wasn’t right. An MRI showed that Collin’s ankle actually had been broken. So, like all great athletes, he knows how to play through pain.

All that said, knowing that their son is strong doesn’t necessarily make it easy to watch him take the shots he does. Doug and Kelly Klein have been around football and seen their kids play it for a long time, but some worry still comes naturally. While football is a physical game in generally, the hits a quarterback takes appear – and in some cases are truly – a little bit different.

“His are more often very visible, number one,” Doug said. “Number two, they’re usually in space, with a lot of momentum, so the velocity and all that kind of thing is a lot more intense. It’s different, I will tell you that. It’s different watching them go through that. But like I said, I understand it.”

A lifetime love

Aside from his athletic ability and toughness, Collin just loves the game, his parents said, and always has.

As a sixth grader, Collin served as defensive coordinator for his younger brother’s football team. He would draw up plays and coach the kids who were just a couple years younger than him. That defense didn’t allow a touchdown all season long.

Some kids make doodles in the margins of their papers at school. On Collin’s papers, it wouldn’t be unusual to find a football play drawn up on the side, Kelly said.

“He loved the pace and the strategy of football,” she said. “As a quarterback, you’re always reading defenses, you’re always planning. The strategy. He loves the strategy of football. He’s a very smart football player, so he really picked up on that, the strategy of it.”

Looking forward

Collin is only a junior, so it will be interesting to see what he can accomplish going forward this season as well as his senior year. With teams like Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the 2011 schedule – besides the opponents the Wildcats have already faced – Collin and Kansas State as a whole have a chance to prove themselves on a very high level.

What’s more, Collin’s brother Kyle is a freshman on the team this year. His parents anticipate watching Kyle’s story unfold just like Collin’s has. If what we’re seeing now is any indication of the impact another Klein could have, that’s very good for Kansas State.

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2 Responses to “Klein’s Rise: Not a Surprise”

  1. Bob Houck October 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Very nice column Ashley. This year’s team is a joy to read about. And of course I’m looking forward to hearing about Frank and the hoopsters!

    Best wishes,

    Bob Houck

    • Ashley Dunkak October 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks, Bob! I certainly agree about this year’s team. These guys have really surpassed outside expectations all year long. We’ll see if they can keep doing it on the road in the Big 12! Hope all is going great, and thanks for reading!

      Ashley

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