Jan. 1, 2012
by Mark Janssen
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 2 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 KSU’s final game of the year against Iowa State.
SPORTS EXTRA: I understand if not football, there could have been a college career in basketball.
DOUG KLEIN: He was an incredible basketball player. About even with football, but he had more experience with basketball. He was traveling around the state as a fourth- and fifth-grader, and then played on a 17-year-old team when he was 16.
SE: Why was there such a late start in football? I believe he didn’t play organized football until his freshman year.
DK: It was somewhat by design. In my opinion, the Loveland youth program wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a super positive situation and was without great instruction.
KELLY KLEIN: We opted to use that time as family time. We started camping and fishing together.
DK: If you asked Collin today, ATVing would be his favorite activity. He’s into a lot of areas other than football.
SE: Doug, you talk in “we’s” and say “us” a lot with Collin.
DK: Oh yeah. We’ve walked through so much together before we stepped on this campus. We’ve watched him grow, go through position changes and coaching changes. Obviously, Coach Snyder had an incredible reputation, but at the same time we had a question mark on how it would all come together. He wasn’t the coach who recruited Collin. When new people come in and you’re not ‘his’ guy, then you just don’t know about your future.
KK: Those two talk on the phone at least once a day. He will text me daily, but he and Doug talk. We are all in this together. Each boy (Collin and Kyle, a freshman for K-State) would tell you that their best friends are their father and each other. We’re a very close family.
SE: And you’ve been a close family forever, right?
DK: The homeschooling enabled us to have more family time together. Not to minimize sports, but our family has been so much more than that. Collin was not groomed to be a quarterback. He was groomed to be a quality person.
KK: The boys have done everything together their whole life. They’ve eaten every meal together, they studied together, they shared the same bedroom … their friendship has spanned a lifetime. They’ve rarely squabbled, and then it’s only, “Where did you put my thing.” But they never pitted themselves against one another. Our priority as parents has always been kids.
The homeschooling allowed us to lay a foundation of Christian belief. We’re all here to serve the Lord and homeschooling gave us all an early opportunity to form some good habits and give our family more freedom to do things together. We’re a family of unconditional love. There’s nothing they could do to make us love them any more, or any less.
SE: Was it a problem when Coach Snyder moved Collin to wide receiver in 2009 as a redshirt-freshman?
DK: We’ve always believed that Collin was a quarterback all along. Collin believed that from day-one that he was here, but he did what he was supposed to do, and that year it was to be a receiver. But even then he was learning both positions and taking tests on both positions before games. He had a conversation with Coach Snyder and said he would do what he wanted, but that he preferred quarterback.
SE: How do you see Collin’s game improving?
DK: I see his confidence growing with every game. He’s always had a quiet confidence, but you can see it more today than ever before. He’s talking about how the game is slowing down for him in terms of being able to see what’s going on even before it happens. He’s making throws today that you wouldn’t have seen even three weeks ago.
SE: When you hear that Collin has a lot of Tim Tebow in him, what’s your reaction?
DK: Unfortunately I don’t know Tim Tebow. I just know what everybody else knows, but when it comes to character and values, they do seem very similar and we do take that as a compliment.
SE: You hear folks in Manhattan who are amazed to see Collin in church even on the mornings after away football games.
DK: Absolutely. That’s Collin’s world. Those people have been so kind and gracious to him. It’s just staggering. That’s one of the core reasons he’s able to do what he’s doing.
SE: Kelly, his teammates joke that Collin has never been in trouble in his life. What’s the worst trouble that Collin ever got into?
KK: Wow … he’s hardly ever been in trouble. He had a fender bender once, but what kid hasn’t? Oh, he pulled a fire alarm I think when he was 8. It sounds crazy, but both boys were just so easy to get along with because they always wanted to do the right thing.
I tell people this. I love my adult friends, but I put Collin and Kyle above any friends. I enjoy their companionship. I enjoy going out to eat with them as much as anyone. They are so genuine. They never try to put on a show. What you see is what they are.
The boys are 75 percent the same, but the other 25 percent is kind of fun. God put them together to complement one another. Collin is pretty serious and focused, but Kyle likes to stop and smell the roses along the way.