FLUSH — He led Kansas State to a BCS bowl game and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. On Friday, Collin Klein was trying to teach the skills that made him one of the most successful Wildcat quarterbacks in history to area youth.
Klein brought his newly formed passing academy to the Manhattan area Friday, hosting more than 100 kids at Rock Creek High School — ranging from the third grade to seniors in high school.
It was the fourth of seven camp stops around the state for Klein this summer, and he says it’s been a beneficial experience for all involved.
“We’ve had a great chance to really work with each individual kid, and I really felt like I’ve been able to reach out and get to know darn near all of them at some level,” he said. “That’s been really good, and it’s been better than what I anticipated.”
The camp opened in Wichita on July 15, and then went to Liberal on the following day. The camp spent two days in Garden City from July 17-18, where it experienced some of its best numbers so far. Klein said they’ve probably had around 100 at each camp, and about 375 total.
“We had over 100 in the morning and 30 in the afternoon in Garden City,” he said. “People are getting to know about it more because it happened to come together so quick that a lot of people didn’t know about it yet. Now that it has been out there a week and everyone has been talking about it, it’s getting pretty big.
“We had a couple that went to Liberal and Garden City they loved it so much. We were grateful that they were troopers and hit the road.”
The camp will be moving to Topeka on Tuesday, followed by a stop in Salina on Wednesday and the final date in Dodge City on Thursday.
Camp coach Garrett Love, a Kansas Senator from the 38th district, helped Klein come up with the idea for the camp, and said it’s something that can benefit the whole state, especially kids from smaller communities that wouldn’t normally have access to a nearby skills camp.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids in southwest Kansas, and really all around the state,” he said. “A lot of these areas don’t always have a guy like Collin Klein coming into town and giving them football skills, but more importantly character and leadership development that they’ll be able to use on the field and then also in life off the field.”
Klein said the chance to get in one-on-one with so many kids has been the most rewarding part for he and his coaches so far, and he has been proud of the efforts of everyone involved in putting on the camp.
“My favorite part has been getting in and talking with the kids and seeing the joy on their faces when they succeed or they get a concept,” he said. “You coach them and it clicks and they do it and all of the sudden their faces get all big. Just being able to see them grow has been the best part.”
Klein said they will be doing the camp next year, and he urged those interested to reach out to the camp through its website www.collinkleinpassingacademy.com.
“We are definitely going to do it next year, exactly where and what it looks like — we have on our website a link that people from different towns can let us know, and if there is interest to hosting one next year, they can get in touch with us,” he said. “We really like our model so far of getting out into the smaller communities and reaching out to people that are a little bit further away to make it easier for them and get into pockets that maybe don’t have camps.”