Kansas State University

September 28, 2011

K-State's Collin Klein earning acclaim

MANHATTAN — Collin Klein woke up Sunday morning to an unfamiliar sensation.

MANHATTAN — Collin Klein woke up Sunday morning to an unfamiliar sensation.

Severe soreness.

After fighting through defenders for 93 yards on 22 carries and completing 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards Saturday in humid conditions during Kansas State's win at Miami, muscle fatigue was to be expected. But to the degree he felt?

The K-State quarterback can only remember feeling that way one other time. It was last November, when he made a surprise start against Texas and led the Wildcats to victory by running 25 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Both games were exhausting. The mornings after weren't comfortable. When asked to compare the two, he shrugged. All he knows is he enjoyed them.

"I was definitely pretty sore," Klein said. "But the feeling on the inside more than compensated for the cuts and bruises."

That attitude is gaining Klein respect. On Tuesday, he received honorable mention accolades for the Davey O'Brien Quarterback of the Week award, and became the target of praise from his teammates and Baylor coach Art Briles.

Their consensus: He is one tough quarterback.

"He's a crusader at heart," redshirt freshman center B.J. Finney said. "He's a very tough guy, a very tough teammate. He shows the toughness that everybody wishes they had. He's a very good warrior."

Added Briles: "That guy is good. He's a big, physical kid who keeps plays alive with his feet and his mind."

The bloody jersey Klein wore at the end of Saturday's game proved that much. The Wildcats were forced into several difficult situations — including a second-and-29 from their own 3 — but Klein continually moved them up field by taking the ball up the middle and initiating contact with defenders on designed running plays.

That has been the norm this season. Klein has rushed for 310 yards and three touchdowns on 66 attempts while becoming the focal point of K-State's offense.

Wide receiver Chris Harper has been so impressed that he has compared Klein to former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he didn't envision Klein getting so many carries a month ago, but will continue to call his number because he is playing so well.

He also knows Klein can handle the pressure.

"He has a high degree of mental and physical toughness," Snyder said.

Whatever Snyder asks him to do, Klein says he will do.

"Whatever our offense and my family needs at the time that they need it," Klein said. "That's the most important thing to me."

Even if that means taking hits normally reserved for running backs and wide receivers.

If he's sore in the morning, who cares? With a week in between games, he has more than enough time to recover. The tougher the better.

After watching him play Saturday, that's a motto even K-State's defense thinks it can learn from.

"He's going to try to do whatever it takes to win," said defensive end Jordan Voelker. "Just seeing the sacrifice that he was making — he was bleeding everywhere, from all over his arms — so that's impressive to know that he is sacrificing that much... just seeing him go through that was a real tribute to him, just showing that he is giving it his all. It shows that the team needs to pick up and do their part, too."

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