MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — So many of their mannerisms are the same. So is the attention to detail, the toughness — the grit that has come to not only define them but also their football program.
In fact, the only real difference between them may be their ages.
Bill Snyder turns 75 in October. Collin Klein turns 25 next month.
So it makes sense that when Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist for Kansas State just two years ago, gave up on his professional dreams and embarked on a career in coaching, he would return do it under the silver-haired sage who turned him into one of the best quarterbacks in school history.
"It's an honor. I mean, I love this place," Klein told The Associated Press recently, "and it really worked out, and I'm grateful coach gave me the opportunity. It's the place I wanted to be."
Snyder actually tried to talk Klein out of a career in coaching, wary of the toll it has taken on his own family. The long hours and immense pressure can be unbearable. But Snyder also remembers seeing something in Klein, back when he was leading the Wildcats to a No. 1 national ranking and a BCS bowl berth, which made him believe that one day he'd be back on the sidelines.
It may have been the way Klein pored over game film. Or the way he grasped Snyder's complex offense. Or the way he could inspire his teammates when times got tough.
"It's great to have him back. He knows the system like the back of his hand, and having him back will help us a lot," said wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who once caught passes from Klein and is now picking his brain for tips and tricks as a star pupil.
"He's been there," Lockett said. "He knows what to expect."
Ironically, Klein's biggest anxiety these days is that he doesn't know what to expect.
His official title is "quality control assistant," but nobody can seem to give him a very good explanation of what that job entails. One day he may be breaking down game film, the next he may be doing a critique of the Wildcats' offense. Heck, he might be the one fetching Snyder's ever-present cup of coffee, and he insists that would be just fine with him.
"It's very different, but very similar at the same time," Klein explained. "As a quarterback and a player here, I had a decent feel for what went on behind the scenes, but I didn't have any idea of how much work and all the details that needed to get done."
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