Klein starts youth passing academy

By Joshua Kinder

Collin Klein might still wear an NFL jersey next season, but until then, the quarterback is trying his hand at a little coaching.

Kansas State’s Heisman Trophy finalist last season announced the launch of the Collin Klein Passing Academy this past Friday — a one-day traveling camp scheduled for stops next month in Wichita, Liberal, Garden City, Manhattan, Topeka, Salina and Dodge City. 

“I’ve always had this idea and knew it was something that I wanted to do, somehow — just had to figure out the best way,” Klein said during a phone interview Sunday.

Enter state senator Garrett Love, whom Klein met during Catbacker events while at K-State. Love, who was a star quarterback at South Gray High School in Montezuma, won the state’s High School Heisman in 2005 and later played basketball at Washburn University for Bob Chipman.

“Garrett called me and we were just chatting and he ran the idea by me to do it this summer,” Klein said. “So, we just started to see logistically if we could pull it off. He had a rough outline and a camp model from Coach Chipman, who does summer camps. Having played basketball at Washburn and seen that model, Garrett brought that experience to the table, and I brought the football side to that model.

“Within a couple weeks, we had a good outline together and realized it was doable. We’re just excited to be able to get around to different cities in Kansas and get to work with kids and hopefully give back to those communities.”

In addition to Love, Klein’s camp staff includes his father Doug, who was an assistant at Kent State, former Washburn University QB Dane Simoneau, former Dodge City Community College and Friends University QB Alex Melugin, former Air Force receiver Matt Farmer, Augusta High receivers coach Brad Gober and Rock Creek QB coach Skyler Beam.

The camps, though designed for quarterbacks and receivers, are open to all positions, third-graders through high-school aged athletes. Klein said he wanted the camp to be available to the youngest of athletes still learning football because in the end, everything comes down to fundamentals, no matter what level.

“Fundamentally, the game doesn’t change,” he said. “Obviously, football is a very complex game, but with the fundamentals, sometimes it can be so simple, even in the third grade. From a quarterback standpoint in the third grade, you can learn how to position your shoulders and step at your target when you’re throwing, being balanced and even some basic footwork.

“From the receiver position, you can learn how to frame the ball, not letting it past your eyes and then the basic fundamentals coming in and out of routes.”

But can Klein teach the patience he so often displayed while orchestrating the Wildcats’ offense? The 2012 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Klein racked up more than 7,200 yards of total offense and 86 touchdowns at K-State. He guided the Wildcats to back-to-back bowl games and 21 victories the past two seasons, including the 2012 Big 12 championship, becoming one of the most recognizable student-athletes in K-State history.

“I think on some level there is that natural instinct that either you have or don’t, but that instinct can also be grown and nurtured and coached,” Klein said. “You build that through fundamentals.”

But Klein wasn’t considered a true pocket passer in college, as he rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and a record 56 touchdowns. And in Kansas, only a handful of high school programs can really claim to be good passing teams — many opting for the dual-threat attack or just staying on the ground altogether.

Klein said his camp can help any high school quarterback in any system become better.

“There’ll be some of those dynamics that are mixed in, but regardless of whether you throw it five times of 50 times in a game, when you do throw it, to be successful, you need to do it a certain way and understand what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re doing,” said, Klein, who was the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner last season.

“I think we’ll be able to give something to each kid, so they can go home to their school and whatever system they’re apart of having improved themselves and ultimately improve their team.”

Klein himself, is still working to improve, as he’s currently in Colorado working out with former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer, hoping to land on an NFL roster later this summer.

“I really want to play and that’s what I really want to do,” Klein said. “I still think I’ll get a chance. With the opportunities I’ve gotten so far, I think I’ve done really well and really maximized them. I’m just getting ready for the next one.”

That one might still come with the Houston Texans, who had Klein in for their rookie minicamp this spring. Though he has no contract just yet with the Texans, Klein has remained in contact with the team throughout the summer.

“I had a very good rookie camp and they were pleased with that,” he said. “I think they’re trying to figure some things out and see what’s available, so again, nothing is certain — especially in the NFL — but I still think there could be an opportunity there this next season.”

Until then, it’s back and forth from Colorado to Kansas for Klein, hoping to have a more permanent address this August.

“The uncertainty has been difficult, but we’re just trying to stay positive and trying to make sure we’re ready if that opportunity comes,” he said.

The Manhattan leg of the camp is scheduled for July 19 at Rock Creek High School in Flush. The cost of the camps ranges from $40 to $55 and includes a camp T-shirt. For more information on attending the passing academy, go to www.collinkleinpassingacademy.com or call (620) 869-4318.

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