Only one player in Kansas State history has made the trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Now Michael Bishop has company, as quarterback Collin Klein was named a finalist for the game’s most prestigious award on Monday night.
One of three finalists, the senior will travel to New York Saturday morning for the ceremony that night, which will air on ESPN at 7 p.m. Klein will be joined at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square by Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
“I’m just honored with this opportunity that the Lord has provided me here at K-State,” Klein said in a release. “I’m so proud to represent K-State in this because I feel like my road is very synonymous and in line with the K-State way. It has been a process. It has been a journey.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs, as well as a lot of hard times and growing pains through it. I’m just very proud to represent the K-State family and our heart and spirit in this environment.”
Klein is the first Wildcat finalist since Bishop, who was the runner-up in 1998 behind Texas running back Ricky Williams.
For the season, Klein has completed 180-of-272 passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing 194 times for 980 yards. He ranks eighth in school history in passing yards and 10th in passing TDs. Klein has a school-record 55 career rushing touchdowns, 10 more than Darren Sproles, who scored 45 TDs from 2001-04.
Monday was a big day for Klein, as he was named the 2012 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner. Candidates must be completing their college eligibility and on schedule to graduate with their class, while being judged on character, citizenship, academic achievement, leadership qualities and on-field accomplishments. Other finalists this season included Matt Barkley (Southern California), A.J. McCarron (Alabama), E.J. Manuel (Florida State) and Geno Smith (West Virginia).
Klein is the first K-State quarterback to win the award and the fifth player from the Big Eight/Big 12. It’s the first major award for a Wildcat since Terence Newman won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2002.
“Collin is not just a tremendous athlete and leader on the field, but an MVP off the field as well, who repeatedly has been recognized for his numerous contributions to the community and to the spirit of sportsmanship” said John C. Unitas, Jr., President of The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. “Collin joins a prestigious list of top quarterbacks who embody the characteristics that made Johnny Unitas such an enduring legend, including many who have gone on to illustrious careers in the NFL.”
Klein is also a finalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards. The Loveland, Colo., native will be in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday for The Home Depot College Football Awards Show, airing on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, Klein will be in Baltimore, Md., to accept the Unitas Award at the foundation’s dinner before traveling to New York Saturday morning.