Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cats rallying behind Klein’s Heisman race

If this football thing doesn’t work out for Chris Harper, he might have a future as a campaign manager.

It is election season after all, and Kansas State has its own candidate in quarterback Collin Klein, now the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy after his career day last weekend at West Virginia.

While Harper, the Wildcats’ leading receiver this season, is openly campaigning for his quarterback, K-State coach Bill Snyder has taken a more diplomatic approach when asked about Klein’s candidacy.

“I want him to win it,” Harper said. “Why wouldn’t I want him to win it? I mean, if you have the opportunity, go out there and do it. I think Coach doesn’t want us focusing on individuals getting attention because he wants us focusing on the team, but when he’s playing like he’s playing, is humble and deserves it…

“If you ask Collin about it, he’ll probably defer the question to somebody else. He definitely deserves, so why not push him to get it?”

Snyder said this week, as he’s done every week, that Klein is deserving of any award he receives, but has yet to come out and just say, “My quarterback should win the Heisman.”

“He’s an absolutely wonderful young man and a tremendously talented player,” he said. “I haven’t seen all the players in the country and if going to vote on what I see, I see him to be as fine a player as anybody.”

Klein himself, as taken the same approach to the Heisman hype as his coach, but admits its hard to stay completely clear of all the national chatter that’s only amplified since he passed for 323 yards and scored seven touchdowns in the Wildcats’ romp in West Virginia against fellow candidate Geno Smith.

“This day and age, TVs everywhere, Internet everywhere and Twitter, its hard to be totally oblivious,” he said Tuesday. “I do try to focus on exactly what I’m doing right now and what we’re doing right now and what we’ve done to get us to this point.”

“We’re just trying to keep it up. We’re a little over halfway of our journey and there’s still just as many dangers that we have to take care of in the second half as we had in the first half.”

Typical Klein. Always humble, the senior has mastered the art of dodging questions about himself, and especially the Heisman, an award no Wildcat has ever won. The best chance K-State had at winning the award was in 1998 when quarterback Michael Bishop finished second to Texas running back Ricky Williams.

“I think the players like it more than he does,” Harper said. “We pull for him to get everything, more than he does. A lot of players on the team are pulling for him to win the Heisman, more so than him — like we’re going to get to take the trophy home or something.”

Taking nothing away from Klein’s accomplishments, Harper said his quarterback winning the award would also be a team achievement.

“It is an individual award, but it’s not — it would mean a lot to a lot of people around the program,” he said. “Down the line, it would probably mean a lot to him, but right now, he would rather wins games than win the Heisman, and that says a lot about him.”

The defense also takes pride in what Klein has done on offense.

“We want everyone on our team to be successful and he’s a big spotlight on the team,” senior defensive end Meshak Williams said. “We try to get him the ball so he can make plays and do what he does best.”

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