NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein has had a lot going for him the past few weeks.
The man of many hats — a football captain, student and new husband — has had a lot going on the past few months, but it’s a recent claim to fame that has set Klein on a much bigger stage.
Klein was featured Saturday morning on an ESPN College GameDay piece — just days after his name started surging up multiple national writers’ lists as a serious candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
The Loveland, Colo., native’s biggest statement came Saturday night, though, when he helped lead the Wildcats past the sixth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium in a 24-19 win.
“Coach Snyder says, no self limitations, we’re just going to try and take care of our business to the best of our ability, do everything we can possibly do to get ourselves ready to go battle, and when the time comes, we have a really great battle,” Klein said.
“We believe that together, and we get it done.”
ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt visited Manhattan this past Wednesday — Klein’s 23rd birthday — wearing a party hat and carrying a purple balloon. For his “Bald Man on Campus” GameDay segment, Van Pelt chose to spend the day hanging out with Klein.
From Bill Snyder Family Stadium to center stage playing the piano at McCain Auditorium on the K-State campus, Van Pelt got a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be K-State’s big man on campus.
Klein is often compared to New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. There are many similarities — from both being home-schooled to their faith-first character and their styles of play on the field.
Van Pelt asked Klein if he ever wondered what Tebow thought of him, then pulled out his cell phone and read Klein a text message.
The text message was from Tebow, who had nothing but good things to say about Klein, showing his admiration for K-State’s leader.
“I just appreciated the heck out of it,” Klein said about the text from Tebow. “It was amazing. Obviously Tim is pretty busy too. He’s got a lot going on, just the fact that he’d take the time to reach out, I appreciate the heck out of him in so many areas. It was pretty cool.”
One big difference between Klein and Tebow, though, is that the former Gator star won a Heisman Trophy while at Florida.
Could Klein have an actual shot at doing the same this season? Saturday’s performance against the Sooners certainly didn’t hurt his cause — completing 13-of-21 passes for 149 yards, while rushing for another 79 yards.
Last week, Klein’s named appeared in the Top-10 polls from ESPN, CBS Sports and Yahoo Sports.
“No other player in college football seems to succeed by the same kind of sheer will that Klein does,” CBS Sports’ Chris Huston wrote in his Week 3 Heisman column.
But despite the differences that came along with the national media attention Klein received this week, he said his focus remains on his team.
“Coach always just talks about keeping the game between the white lines, and focusing on what we need to do to win,” he said.
The closest K-State ever came to a Heisman trophy was Michael Bishop in 1998 when he finished second to Texas’ Ricky Williams, who had a history-making season for the Longhorns.
With the second red-letter game of the 2012 season now behind him, Klein is now has the unique opportunity to make some history of his own.