Klein Overcomes Odds to Get Back in the Game
"I had surgery in the middle of August," explained Klein to a group of reporters surrounding him, eager to hear his story. "Recovery time was about six months, and during that time I couldn't do much. I pretty much had to stay laying down flat for the whole first month, but after that I was able to get back to walking, slowly running, straight line stuff."
Describing the pain he endured if he spent too much time on his feet as "the equivalent to a migraine" in his back, the process of just getting back on his feet - let alone getting back on the field - was a slow one.
However, once he was back on his feet, Klein wasted no time getting back on the football field. He said he returned to practices in late December, just before the Alamo Bowl, but he was only able to do drills on his own and work on his technique. He was unable to participate in any team drills until spring practice.
"During my rehab, all I did was individual work, so transferring that individual work back to team chemistry, that's probably been the most challenging part," explained Klein. "Thankfully I have a little experience under my belt, so gaining back the speed wasn't that tough coming back. It was more of just an acclimation to that (team) mindset again; getting back with the guys."
While returning to the team has been an adjustment, if you watch him on the field today, you'd never know the rollercoaster year he just went through.
Klein is back in action. He's making a difference for the Wildcat offense, and through his hard work and determination, he has quickly caught the eyes of his coaches.
"The guy who has probably been the most impressive of anyone has been Kyle Klein," said K-State head coach Bill Snyder earlier this month when asked about his wide receivers. "He's coming off of an injury and getting just back on the field. He's worked hard at it and he's caught everybody's eye.
"He's a tough-minded young guy, and I think he's motivated to come back. He's always been a very conscientious player, one that's worked hard and stayed focused on detail."
And it's not just Snyder who is impressed with Klein's resiliency and his ability to, not only get back, but also excel on the field.
"He's impressed me," said K-State junior quarterback Joe Hubener. "Being out all last season, that's not something you just expect for him to come back from and fit right in, but he's really had an impact on this offense. He has a big body, he runs reasonably well and he has good hands. He's playing solid."
Though he couldn't play during the 2014 season, Klein and the Wildcat football coaches found other ways to keep his mind sharp and in the game. On home game days, Klein would work with the receivers by helping with checks and assignments. He said he would be a "mental confidence booster" for his fellow route runners. Then, when the game began, he would head up to the press box with the offensive coaches.
"The coaches were generous to let me still be a part of everything," Klein said. "I was able to get in on all the play calls and still be mentally engaged in the game. I think that helped a lot coming back with the speed of the game because I never really mentally left. Coaches were really helpful in letting me a part of it even though I couldn't actively contribute."
He enjoyed working with the team, doing something new, but spending time off the field only made him realize how much he enjoyed being on the field.
So now, as he looks forward to his final season with the Wildcats and continues training this spring, he is taking nothing for granted.
"I want to have fun," said Klein with a smile. "We get caught up in the lights, the crowds, the attention, but at the end of the day, it's about playing football and having fun. So, my goals this year are to contribute to this team in any way I possibly can and to jut have fun with it. It's my senior year. I have one more shot to go out and play football, so I'm going to make the most of it."
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TO FACE DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMP, UCONN
Kansas State women's basketball head coach Jeff Mittie announced on Tuesday a home and home series with 2015 NCAA national champion Connecticut. The Wildcats will face the Huskies in Storrs, Connecticut on Monday, Nov. 23 in the 2015-16 season and will host Connecticut at a date to be determined in the 2016-17 season.
"I wanted three things out of scheduling UConn: a marquee opponent for our fans, a tremendous challenge for our team, and a unique women's basketball event for our 'Team Hally' game and girls basketball players across this region," said Mittie.
To continue reading about the Wildcats' exciting announcement, please click here.
Also, stay tuned for tomorrow's K-State Sports Extra with comments from Mittie and his players and more on the upcoming home and home series against the Huskies.
DETAILS FOR PURPLE/WHITE SPRING GAME
With anticipation growing for Saturday's special 2015 Purple/White Spring Game at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, K-State Athletics officials have announced numerous details surrounding the game, including former Wildcat letterwinners Larry Brown and Clarence Scott serving as honorary captains.
For more information on the Fan Zone, tickets, parking and more please click here.