Jan. 3, 2012
By Mark Janssen
DALLAS, Texas - OK ... now it can be told on where Collin Klein developed his toughness.
"Growing up, I remember going on family bicycle rides and my mom (Kelly) stressing to push through hard things," Klein said at Tuesday's offensive media day. "I'd be on a bike trip and my little legs were fried, but she would always encourage me to push through the pain. Little things like that prepared me for today."
This season Klein has played through the pain of a grueling 10-2 football season. A year where he carried the ball 293 times ... from a quarterback position ... which was 84 more times than any of the other leading running backs in the Big 12.
The image of the beating No. 7 took is vivid with blood streaming out of each elbow, bruises on his legs, and his arms, and his back.
But Klein played on. Battered starting with the Miami game in Week 3 of the season, until the second half of the season when he was so sore he couldn't practice for a three-week period.
To Kansas State's defensive players, their quarterback served as an inspiration. As coordinator Chris Cosh said, "He plays quarterback with a defensive personality. He'd be welcome in our linebacker meeting room at any time."
"You have to have great respect for him," said defensive end Jordan Voelker. "You see him bleeding all over the place at Miami, and he kept getting hit on every play, but he kept playing on."
Defensive back Nigel Malone added, "You have those big Big 12 linebackers taking shots at him every time he runs the ball, but he always responds, which is something we really appreciate. If a quarterback can play that tough, we knew as guys on defense we had to match that intensity."
"He's just so tough-minded and so into it," said linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. "He's proven to the world what he's made of."
Klein may have earned the respect of the defense, but cutting him no slack on offense is freshman center B.J. Finney, who is also Klein's roommate, along his Klein's brother, Kyle.
"Earlier in the season I was having back spasms, but he would make me laugh to the point my back would lock up and spasm out. It was painful for me, but funny to him," chuckled Finney. "So after he got banged around by Oklahoma and had a tough time moving, and even breathing, it was my turn to make him laugh. He would say, `Dude, stop. It hurts.' But it was my turn for payback."
Turning serious, Finney said, "We're all amazed at Collin's toughness, but it's just the way he carries himself. We know he's going to give it his all, so we need to make sure we give our all."
Receiver Chris Harper adds, "There are times you know he's not going to get up, but he always does."
Of his health status today, Klein says, "There's no substitute for time. The break did me some good. I feel better and am ready for another round."
TEBOW LIKE: What Klein seems to be made of is a lot of the same DNA of Tim Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner from the Florida Gators, and now quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
"He's a very special player and every bit like Tim Tebow when it comes to his character and values," said Del Miller. "It's his makeup that impresses me. In sprints, he's always first in his group, and I mean every day. His work ethic never changes and he's grown to be a great leader."
Miller added, "You name every intangible on what it takes to be a winner, and Collin has it. Leaders draw players into you, and he has that ability. When he speaks, players rally around him."
In the Arkansas camp, head coach Bobby Petrino also sees Tebow-like qualities in Klein: "I think you can certainly see some comparisons there. The size and the strength, the ability to break tackles, the ability to win games in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. The ability to make big throws when the game is on the line. He is a really, really good football player. It is a challenge for us."
No one is closer to Klein than his younger brother Kyle, who is currently making the transition from defensive end to wide receiver for the Wildcats.
Of his big brother, he says, "I couldn't be happier for him. I know the time, effort and energy he has spent preparing for this opportunity, so I'm not surprised at all."
So, has all this success changed Collin? "No sir, not at all," said Kyle.
So, BJ, has all this success changed your roomie? "Not one bit. He's still the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. (Pause ... and smiling) He's a very, very nice guy ... almost as nice as me."
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