When Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein came off the field against Oklahoma State two weeks ago with an injury, his younger brother was right by his side.
The two sat next to each other on the sideline, their purple jerseys displaying their brotherhood in bold white letters across their backs.
Kyle Klein, redshirt-freshman wide receiver, said that’s just the way it is. The two brothers have a bond, a friendship, which has grown into the close relationship they share today as teammates.
Growing up, they did everything together. Though they are two grades apart, they were home schooled, so while most other siblings spent their weekdays in different classrooms with different peers, the Klein brothers had the opportunity to grow side by side.
“When you’re around a person so much,” Kyle said, “you can’t help but have a very close relationship with them. You understand the goods, the bads, what they’re like, what they’re not like, without them even having to tell you. It creates a very close dynamic, which I’m grateful for.”
So when Collin tied the knot in August, it wasn’t just his life that changed.
His best man and best friend saw some changes as well. Kyle lost his roommate, the guy he’d shared a room with his entire life and moved in with with when he came to K-State to play football.
Once Collin was married, their brotherly dynamic was altered.
“We’ve lived together for the past few years, and obviously now that I’m married that phase has ended,” Collin said last month. “I mean, other than my wife, he’s my best friend. He’s right there.”
While Kyle spent his entire life No. 1 in Collin’s eyes, he now sits in second place.
But it’s a demotion Kyle understands.
“Well, number two never tastes as good as number one, but in this case, I do understand,” Kyle joked. “To be very blunt, he was my best friend and I was his best friend growing up, the whole time.”
K-State head coach Bill Snyder said that on the field, the brothers are teammates, just like anyone else wearing the Purple and White uniform.
But Collin and Kyle have a few other guys they can relate to, guys who also share family ties on the team.
K-State currently has three other sets of brothers on its roster along with the Kleins — kickers senior Anthony Cantele and his younger brother Jack, wide receivers Curry Sexton and his younger brother Collin and linebacker Jared Loomis and his younger brother, receiver Evan.
While it’d be easy to assume that having so many sets of siblings has helped create and build the ‘family’ atmosphere the Wildcats take so much pride in, Kyle said that’s just not the case — it’s actually quite the opposite.
“I would say the family atmosphere is what creates the brothers, and what drives the brothers here,” Kyle said. “I can come to a place where my older brother is, and people aren’t going to be any different to me just because my older brother is here.”
During a season where K-State is 10-0, ranked No. 1 in the BCS and his older brother Collin is a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, of course Kyle wishes he was on the field with him.
Doing that is difficult right now, though, with veterans Chris Harper, Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett as the go-to targets for Collin. Kyle may not see any time between the white lines this year.
“Obviously, I would like to be out there catching passes from my brother,” Kyle said, “but I also understand that you have to put in the time, and we’ve got some great guys in front of me, which is understandable, Chris, Tramaine, Lockett. So it’s hard, but I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing.”
And with three more years of eligibility with K-State, and a similar work ethic and lifestyle as his brother, Kyle has plenty of time to make his way onto the field.
But what’s it like having an older brother who lined the walls with pillows as a kid to practice diving catches, and now is leading the Heisman race?
Collin is the older brother who hung up posters of his favorite athletes in their room, but has now made his way onto cover of Sports Illustrated dubbed “The best player on the nation’s best team.”
Needless to say, Collin has become a lot of things any younger brother would look up to.
However, while Kyle said he is happy for and proud of Collin, the biggest area in which he looks up to his older brother is the way he lives out his faith on a daily basis.
“It’s unbelievable just how much it means to him,” Kyle said. “It is the most important thing in his life, and it’s really something I try to emulate.
“It’s, to me, that’s the most amazing part of Collin.”
And Kyle said the Collin that people see is the Collin behind the scenes too. He practices what he preaches, which is why, Kyle said, he is such a respected leader both on and off the field.
After K-State, who knows where Collin will end up, so having the opportunity to spend so much time together isn’t just something Kyle enjoys.
“The last few years have been amazing, getting to share this time,” Collin said, “We have been and are so close from growing up, and I’m just so privileged and blessed to have this opportunity to play with him. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”