Klein taking on image of K-State coach Snyder

Associated Press Modified: September 9, 2012 at 11:48 am •  Published: September 9, 2012
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Collin Klein has yet to show up wearing old-school Nike Cortez kicks.

He hasn't started referring to his Kansas State teammates as "youngsters," or dug up a wind jacket from the '93 Copper Bowl. His hairline isn't backpedaling, his youthful face remains without wrinkle, and he doesn't hike his up khakis to his ribcage, at least not in public.

In many other ways, though, he's starting to resemble his wily old coach.

Just like Bill Snyder, who raised the Kansas State program from the ashes, Klein refuses to believe greatness is ever good enough. He's mild-mannered off the field and a caged lion on it, a church-going, God-fearing battering ram who refuses to quit, blood and bruises be damned.

Here's the thing: Klein is keenly aware of it.

The senior quarterback had just run roughshod over Miami, piling up nearly 300 yards of total offense and accounting for four touchdowns in a 52-13 whipping, but still couldn't get himself to waver from the even keel that has suited the No. 15 Wildcats so well the past couple years.

"I mean, in a way coach is rubbing off on me," Klein conceded, "because what I'm thinking about right now are the two field goals we had to kick inside the 10."

Or the trick-play down around the goal line that resulted in a fumble.

When asked about it, Klein simply let out a slow, "Shuuucks." After all, he would never curse out loud, even if a few choice words went through his mind at the time. That's the kind of poise he exhibits in the pocket, or when he's running Kansas State's unorthodox read-option offense.

In short, the temperament that has turned him into one of the nation's most dynamic players.

This is the same guy, after all, who chose Kansas State over Air Force, Colorado State and Utah. Alabama and Oklahoma weren't beating down his door in Loveland, Colo., not for some gangly 6-foot-4 prospect labeled a "pro-style quarterback" despite a slightly funky throwing motion.

This is the same guy who played wide receiver and special teams when he arrived in Manhattan, a sleepy college town that stirs from its slumber on autumn Saturdays. Klein didn't switch back to quarterback until his sophomore year, and then hardly played at all.

This is the guy who finally got a chance last season, and proved to everyone who counted him out that he could be a leader. Klein ran for 27 touchdowns, passed for 13 more and almost certainly led the nation in time spent in the trainers' room, his steadfast self-assurance and feisty playing style pacing the Wildcats to 10 victories and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.

"He's improved at everything," Snyder said, "because he works diligently to get better at everything. He's better in the passing game, he's gotten better in leadership, managing the game. I mean, he's just a guy who works diligently to get better, and he's done that across the board."



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