It is rare to have a player noticeably place a team on his back and carry the team throughout the season. You may think of moments such as Kemba Walker in the 2012 Big East Tournament; however, there are a minuscule amount of complete seasons where someone can point and say, “This team is 10 games worse without this player”. Even the Florida teams with Tim Tebow who is one of the greatest football players in history, the Tyler Hansborough led North Carolina Tar Heels, or the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era would have been very talented teams even lacking these stars. Enter the 6’5″ humble farm boy from Loveland, Colorado. He’s more familiar to the world as Heisman Trophy Finalist and Kansas State Quarterback Collin Klein.
Collin Klein was not raised to be a football star. Hell, even out of high school he was not supposed to be a football star. Rivals.com ranked Collin a 3-star recruit, the twenty-first most promising pro-style Quarterback, and supplied no national ranking. Basically this is Rivals.com saying, “He’ll be a decent Quarterback for a smaller program”…or “This kid is not going to lead a team to a BCS bowl”. Welcome to 2012 and the world has somehow survived the proposed “Mayan Apocalypse” and the teams which were looking forward to not having to play their bowl games are regretting forgoing practice for revelry. The 3-star, no-hope recruit now has to begin preparations for Pac-12 at-large bid Oregon. Collin Klein came to Kansas State and was shifted from QB to Wide Receiver because who wants this kid touching the ball every play? We want a true playmaker to be touching the ball every play. This kid is not the athlete we want at Quarterback…he’s too much of a “football player”. Little did Bill Snyder and Kansas State know, Collin Klein is the exact type of playmaker Kansas State needed at Quarterback. Collin Klein is simply a football player and nothing more. He doesn’t wow like other players around the country. Klein does not posses a highlight reel with 40 yard scampers or 60 yard bombs. Collin makes the plays he needs to make and nothing more. You need a 3rd down and five conversion Kansas State? Better have Collin run it straight up the middle behind the fullback. Need a third and nine? Better let Collin drop back and hit a receiver down field. 3rd and goal from the 2? No problem, Kansas State will just have Collin Klein pound into the middle of the offensive line and truck his way into the paint. Collin Klein may have only finished third in the Heisman voting, but he meant far more to Kansas State than either Johnny Manziel meant to Texas A&M or Manti Te’o meant to Notre Dame. Texas A&M has plenty of playmakers on its offense, and sure another Quarterback may have not made the spectacular plays Manziel did, beaten Alabama, or even put forth numbers close to as amazing as Johnny; however, I think at least one man could have: Collin Klein. Te’o may have been the emotional leader of the Notre Dame team and the best player on the team’s outstanding defense. Unfortunately for Te’o, no player, offensive or defensive, can contribute in the unfathomable way a Quarterback does. As great as Te’o is, he is simply the best piece to a fantastic Notre Dame defense, and a great defense cannot be built upon a single spectacular piece. Wondering how important the Quarterback position is in football? Ask the Denver Broncos or every Notre Dame team since Brady Quinn left. Kansas State found out what having a phenomenal football player at the Quarterback position can do. “The Tebow of the Midwest” made every play when Kansas State needed a play. Klein was asked to not only to reside in the Quarterback role, but to become the team’s bruiser near the goaline and in short yardage situations. Klein finished fourth in the country in rushing touchdowns with 22 and added 15 touchdowns through the air. He contributed 132 points to his team. The next highest Quarterback? Tevin Washington at 114. Klein was involved in 46% of Kansas State’s scoring (including field goals and extra points) and 66% of Kansas State’s touchdowns. Collin Klein is not just another player who will be taking the field come Fiesta Bowl kickoff. You can talk about Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota, De’Anthony Thomas or the like of Oregon’s talented speedsters. Kansas State’s counter? A bulldozing Quarterback who never kissed a girl until his wedding day and plays the mandolin.