MANHATTAN — Before he was a starting quarterback at Kansas State, Collin Klein did what most young athletes do during the summer. He attended football camps.
Learning the game from professionals helped him develop into a successful college player and an aspiring NFL passer. Klein hopes to replicate that experience for a new generation. Starting July 15 in Wichita, Klein will share his football knowledge at the Collin Klein Passing Academy, a youth football camp that will make seven stops across the state.
“It’s something I have always wanted to do,” Klein said. “I remember growing up and going to camps, just being around people who had been there and done that and coached me when I was young. I still have vivid memories of that. Now that I have started on my journey and have a chance to give back I am really excited to get out and be a part of the community.”
The camp will serve as a nine-day break in Klein’s busy schedule. He is living in his hometown of Loveland, Colo., where he is training with former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer every morning. He is hoping to improve his game before NFL training camps begin later this month.
If he gets invited to one, he wants to be ready to compete for a roster spot.
Despite a K-State career in which he won 21 games in two seasons as full-time starter and became a Heisman Trophy finalist, Klein went undrafted and is currently a free agent. The Houston Texans invited him to a rookie camp in May and coach Gary Kubiak complimented Klein afterward, but Klein wasn’t offered a contract.
Klein described the experience as both a “blessing” and “stressful,” but is optimistic about his NFL future. He said the Texans have stayed in contact with him, and a handful of other teams have expressed interest.
“Houston has really stayed in touch with me,” Klein said. “They are definitely the main one right now. I know a couple of other teams have contacted my agent and sniffed around a little bit. We will see what happens. We will take our opportunity and make sure we are ready when it gets here.”
Some have suggested Klein would benefit from switching positions. He is a stronger runner than a passer, and at 6-foot-5 he is big enough body to play tight end. He started out as a receiver at K-State.
But Klein remains focused on becoming an NFL quarterback. With Plummer’s help, he is working to improve his footwork, release and balance.
“It’s mainly just little things like that,” Klein said. “We are working on everything. I have made progress in every area. It is just a matter of keeping it up. You have to be ready to go. I was so blessed for the opportunity (with the Texans) to be down there, and I really thought I took advantage of it. Now I’m getting ready for the next one. It could be any time. I hope it happens. You have to be optimistic. I am definitely training like it is going to happen. I will be prepared.”
For now, Klein hopes to help young football players in Kansas.
He will be working with kids ranging from the third grade to seniors in high school. With the help of his father, area coaches and volunteers, Klein will teach groups, offer individual instruction and run 7-on-7 scrimmages.
Preparing for the camp reminds him of childhood, even though he is now a coach.
“I have been so wonderfully blessed to have so many great coaches who have given back and helped me through the years,” Klein said. “From my dad to my high school coach to Coach (Bill) Snyder to Coach (Del) Miller, I could go on and on. To be able now to have a role reversal and to show the kids some skills and maybe communicate the dynamics of hard work and leadership and what joy and physical results come from playing with all your heart … it is going to be a lot of fun.”