NEW YORK — Four years ago, when Collin Klein was a receiver, the question seemed preposterous. But now that he is a Heisman Trophy finalist, it has to be asked.
Where does he rank among the all-time great Kansas State quarterbacks?
Michael Bishop, the only other Heisman finalist the Wildcats have produced, has long been considered the program’s top quarterback. He guided K-State to back-to-back 11-victory seasons and came within an eyelash of taking it to the national championship game in 1998. He also threw for 2,844 yards that year.
But a case can be made for others. Lynn Dickey went on to a 14-year career in the NFL and is now in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Josh Freeman holds the single-season passing record with 3,353 yards, and is Tampa Bay’s starter. Chad May, Jonathan Beasley and Ell Roberson had their moments, too.
So where does that leave Klein?
Exact placement is left up to the individual, but few could dispute he deserves consideration for the top spot.
He guided K-State to a 21-4 record as a full-time starter, he won a Big 12 championship and the Wildcats were briefly on top of the BCS standings this year. If the Wildcats beat Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, he will be a captain on Bill Snyder’s first team to win 12 games.
He is the only quarterback from a BCS conference during the BCS era to throw for 20 touchdowns and rush for 10 in multiple seasons and is the sixth player in Big 12 history to amass 4,000 career passing yards and 2,000 career rushing yards. And he ranks first in school history with 55 rushing touchdowns.
Bishop was more explosive, Freeman had a stronger arm and stats, and no one can beat Dickey’s longevity. But Klein might be the most consistent of the bunch.