Aug. 14, 2012
Editor's Note: Today, K-State Sports Extra begins its nine-part look at the 2012 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position. To have K-State Sports Extra delivered to your inbox each morning, click here.
By Mark Janssen
Yes, there's Collin Klein, a candidate for the Maxwell, Manning, O'Brien and Unitas awards as either the best player or quarterback in the nation.
But the question becomes, who will be behind No. 7 on the depth chart?
That's one of the must-answer questions during the next three weeks prior to kicking off the season on September 1 against Missouri State. The Wildcats are very solid with a multiple awards candidate as a starting quarterback, but after that, there's a lack of experience.
First, the good news.
"Collin just keeps moving forward in a very positive direction," said Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach Del Miller. "He's really stepped forward as a leader, and he was a good leader a year ago."
Asked precisely what impresses Miller the most about his First Team All-Big 12 performer from a year ago, the 16th-year K-State coach said, "Oh gosh ... so many things. Collin is just the whole package. If you have a son, you want him to be like Collin. He's tremendously competitive and tremendously talented."
Klein demonstrated that last year when he accounted for 40 touchdowns - 27 rushing and 13 passing -rushed for 1,141 yards and passed for an additional 1,918. The 27 ground scores broke a 42-year K-State school record.
"Short of putting up my house on it, I'm pretty confident that Collin's going to get the ball in the end zone from inside the five-yard-line," said Miller. "His hands are the best to put the ball in."
The overall total of 40 TDs ranked sixth in the nation and was boosted by the fact that in eight different games Klein accounted for at least three touchdowns.
To Miller, the numbers were not surprising that led the Wildcats to a 10-win season and appearance in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
"I have worked with him, so I knew what he was all about," said Miller of the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Klein. "I knew he was very tough and accomplished in both areas of running and throwing."
A veteran of coaching at Iowa, K-State and San Diego State where he helped tutor such quarterbacks as Chad May and Ell Roberson at K-State, plus Ryan Lindley at San Diego State, Miller said, "He's the best complete package of all of them. He's the most quality person I've ever been associated with."
Compared to the Aztecs' Lindley, Miller said, "He was 6-foot-6, 230 and ran well. He was a third-round draft choice, but Collin is so much more competitive and plays with more tenacity."
Miller went on to say, "Collin has the competitiveness of Chad May and the passion of Ell. Collin is the complete package with every intangible that there is."
But again, who is after Klein?
Miller said that entering fall camp, that decision would likely be between Tavarius Bender, Sam Johnson and Daniel Sams. Bender is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound true freshman from Omaha, Neb., who arrived at K-State in the spring. Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound sophomore, is a walk-on from Topeka High School, while Sams is a 6-foot-2, 211-pound redshirt-freshman from Slidell, La.
While Bender has all the athletic skills that helped him be ranked as the No. 20 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, Miller said, "He's a freshman. He needs to develop and mature like any freshman would need to do, but he is athletic. He's 210 pounds and he can run a 4.5 (40-yard dash). What Tavarius needs to do is get the offense down so he doesn't have to think about what he's doing."
Bender passed for 1,025 yards and rushed for 699 yards as a senior when he was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player in the state of Nebraska.
With Johnson, Miller said, "Sam gives you that cerebral quarterback. He's been in the system a little longer and is a smart quarterback who won't make many mistakes. He's the kid who is first on the field and the last off the field. We'd be very comfortable with the ball in Sam's hands."
The athletic Sams is in his second year in the program after a redshirt season in 2011. The dual-threat quarterback showed off his skills in practices last season as the scout team quarterback and also connected on his only pass in the spring game, a 13-yard gain.
Klein, who plays the piano, violin and mandolin, was married to the former Shalin Spani, the daughter of K-State All-American linebacker Gary Spani, on July 21
Klein's 33 career rushing touchdowns rank third in Kansas State history only behind Darren Sproles (45) and Ell Roberson (40)
In high school in Loveland, Colo., Klein was a higher profile recruit in basketball than football
Klein's brother, Kyle, is a wide receiver on the K-State team
Klein has already graduated with a degree in finance
MEET Del Miller:
Enters 16th season at K-State as he had stints in Manhattan from 1989 to 1994, 2001-05 and 2009-12
Other coaching stops include being the head coach at Missouri State, plus assistant roles at Iowa, Oklahoma State and San Diego State
Has coached in 15 bowl games
A graduate of Central College in Iowa, who started his coaching career at Plainfield High School and then Eagle Grove High School in his native state of Iowa
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.