MANHATTAN — Near the end of Kansas State’s victory over Texas on Saturday, when it was obvious the Wildcats were going to win comfortably, Collin Klein’s teammates urged him to be selfish.
Just this once, they wanted him to forget about the team-first ideals. They wanted him to draw attention to himself.
They saw a golden opportunity for Klein to promote his Heisman Trophy candidacy by striking the Heisman pose if he scored.
“It was funny,” Klein said, “because a lot of the guys were giving me a hard time towards the end of the game and I guess you could say encouraging me to, if I did find the end zone that last time, to do that.”
But when he broke free for a nine-yard touchdown run with 3:11 remaining, he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Too out of character.
“That night and that game was about K-State,” Klein said. “It was about a family Big 12 championship and it needed to stay that way.”
Three days later, with Klein preparing to head to New York along with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o as Heisman finalists, he has no regrets. Some consider the Heisman to be the most prestigious individual award in sports, but not Klein.
He thinks it is a team award.
“The way I and our team see it, I wear the Powercat and represent every single one of our teammates,” Klein said. “That’s how I feel about it. I wish every single one of them could be there with me and share in it. It is very much a team award. I think any finalist or winner would say the same thing.”
We will soon find out. Klein is only at the beginning of a hectic week. On Monday, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in the morning and learned he was a Heisman finalist while shopping with his wife in the evening.
On Tuesday, he spoke with local and regional media about the honors, and started planning his upcoming trips. He will travel to Orlando, Baltimore and New York by week’s end with a traveling party that includes his immediate family, coach Bill Snyder and a handful of athletic department staffers.
He will attend award ceremonies, wear new clothes — he already has a suit picked out for the Heisman ceremony — shake plenty of hands and maybe make a few speeches. It will be a whirlwind few days.
“I’m excited to meet a lot of new people,” Klein said.
Winning the Heisman has always been a goal for Klein, but it’s not something he expected. Looking back, he credits hard work and a consistent attitude for earning an invitation to New York.
He didn’t need to be selfish. He needed to be himself.
“If you would have asked anybody a couple years ago that we would be sitting here having this conversation today, they probably wouldn’t have believed you and put a lot of money down on it,” Klein said. “ … It has been a journey, and one that I definitely could not have scripted this way.”