SE: With The Kleins, It's a Family Team

Collin Klein

Dec. 31, 2011

Editor’s Note: “Sports Extra” has highlighted the life of Collin Klein throughout this past 2011 season, but the Wildcat quarterback is the first to point to his family background as the key to his success. Today is Part 1 of a story on the background of All-Big 12 All-Purpose performer with his parents Doug and Kelly. The conversation took place prior to K-State’s final game of the year against Iowa State.

SPORTS EXTRA: Doug, as a dad, this past fall had to be a dream to see Collin play as he has, and the team to have the success it has.

DOUG KLEIN: I don’t want to sound over-bearing or obnoxious, but I believe he has not played his best game yet. I’m not a parent you can’t please, and I know he’s played some big games, but I just know he has bigger ones left in him.

I’m trying not to be arrogant, but there’s no doubt that I thought he could play like this, and God willing, he’ll have a better season next year.

As a team, it’s been tremendous to watch. It’s been extremely rewarding to see the chemistry of the kids come together like it has. I’ve played on undefeated teams and have been associated with championship teams, and when the chemistry is there, you just know it. You can try to foster it, but at the end of the day you just know if it’s there.

SE: And Kelly, what is your reaction on the success your son has enjoyed.

KELLY KLEIN: We never want to sound prideful about Collin, but Doug and I always had the upmost confidence that he could do exactly what he’s done, and we see even more opportunities for him to continue to grow. So no, it hasn’t been a surprise. Deep in my heart, I knew he was capable of this. But the neatest thing is how all of these players have knit themselves together as a team.

SE: Does a mother wince when she sees her son take some of the hits that he’s taken this fall?

KK: I almost throw up on Saturdays because I’m so nervous for him. It is scary when he gets hit so hard, but I know he’s physically tough, and mentally tough as well. His determination at a young age was just unequaled. That has always been the case. He’s an amazing person, and even was as a little child. He always loved people, was sensitive and very open in communication. Collin was just a natural born leader in so many ways.

(Pause) But on some of those hits, it does break my heart. He’s a little bit big to put on my lap, but that’s what part of me wants to do as a mother.

SE: The Kleins in the stadium during a game … what are they like?

DK: I’m probably more of a thinker. I get excited when we score a touchdown, but for the most part, I stand with arms folded. I’m just staring at the game.

KK: That’s funny because I’m very, very quiet. I watch every little thing, but I don’t say very much.

SE: You’ve missed going to the Miami, Texas Tech and Texas games, is it tougher to watch at home on TV or in person in the stands?

KK: You see more on TV and can hear them talk about the players, so you can hear it and see it, but you miss that hug after the game. For games we don’t go to, we have anywhere from four to 12 friends over at the house. It’s an open invitation, but it’s to watch the game. We don’t want any distractions from the game. (Laughing) We probably cheer a little louder and give more high-fives in the living room than at the stadium.

SE: Some of that TV-talk early in the season was less than complimentary toward Collin. How tough was that to take?

DK: It was fascinating to hear Bob Davie say, ‘Here’s a guy who can only run, but can’t throw the ball.’ That was borderline rude. He didn’t know that because Collin hadn’t been given a chance to throw the ball. When you only throw it 15 to 18 times a game, it’s just not going to happen right way. But like in the Oklahoma State and Texas A&M games, you could tell his confidence was getting better and better and he was making throws as good as anybody in the Big 12 that I’ve watched. He’s every bit as capable when given a chance.

SE: But at the end of the season the talk turned to Collin being a Heisman Trophy candidate. What was that like?

KK: We don’t speak openly about that … well, except with his grandfather who has talked about it since he was a 2-year-old. We’re just grateful that he is included in that conversation. His goal at every level has been to be the best. He wanted to be the best fifth-grader in town, and then he wanted to be the best ninth-grader in the state. It’s just who he is.

DK: First of all, it doesn’t really matter. That’s not to be mean or disrespectful toward the award, but we don’t talk about it and our focus is on the team and winning games. We’re not ignorant of the talk, for sure, but it’s just not a topic of conversation between us.

(Tomorrow, our conversation with Doug and Kelly Klein continues.)

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