Younger Klein staying in line at K-State

By ARNE GREEN

Special to The Hays Daily News

MANHATTAN - You have to get up pretty early to get a jump on Kyle Klein's football education.

His older brother sees to that.

While Kyle Klein makes the transition from tight end to wide receiver - his second position change in less than a year at Kansas State - Collin Klein likes to keep him on his toes.

"We'll be sitting at breakfast at 5:30 in the morning, waiting to come up for weights and he'll throw out a random play and say, 'What does x have, what does w have, what does r have, what does e have,' " Kyle said of his brother, the Wildcats' starting quarterback.

Asked if he ever feels like telling Collin to cool it and let him enjoy his breakfast in peace, Kyle smiles.

"No, because he's helping me out and I know it," he said. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

Besides, Kyle added, he usually knows the answer.

"He's been a good teacher and also the other receivers have helped me out a lot."

Collin Klein, an all-Big 12 performer last year in his first season as a fulltime starter, downplayed the pop quizzes.

"We'll talk and sometimes our days get pretty busy," he said. "We'll see each other in the morning before we go and then during or after practice, so it's kind of the family time you could say - getting on the same page."

Like his younger brother, Collin Klein played some wide receiver as a redshirt freshman while serving as the third-string quarterback. Combined with his command of the Wildcats' complex offense, he's a natural to offer advice, especially since they live together along with starting center B.J. Finney.

"I answer questions," Collin said. "(But) he's smart. He's very smart.

"He picks things up really fast and I just try not to get in his way most of the time. He's doing well, he's learning very fast and I'm there to answer some questions, but he's going to be just fine."

Wide receiver is not a totally new position for Kyle Klein, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Loveland, Colo. At Loveland High School, he received all-state honors as a safety but also played tight end and wide receiver.

"Like you see with his brother, that family just produces athletes," said sophomore wideout Curry Sexton. "At 6-5, 215 or 220 pounds, he runs like a wideout, he can jump, so I think Kyle's going to do fine for us there.

"Kyle's a smart kid, he's a hard-working kid, and with Collin's help and the staff's help and all of us receivers, I think he's going to be able to do some good things for us come fall. He's such a gifted athlete and he wants it so bad."

Kyle started preseason camp last year at defensive end, but switched to tight end at the end of August, then transitioned to wide receiver late in the season. Despite his size, he has run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and should give a smallish Wildcat receiving corps an added dimension.

The biggest adjustment for Klein has been the intricacies and nuances of wide receiver at the collegiate level.

"The sophistication of the position was not anywhere close - it was run in that direction and catch the ball," he said of his high school receiving exploits. "So really there isn't very much experience to draw from in that area."

Even so, Kyle Klein is feeling right at home at receiver.

"I think if fits my skill set a little better," he said. "I really enjoyed receiver in high school."

Up-and-comers

K-State coach Bill Snyder said that halfway through spring drills - it wraps up with the Purple-White game on April 28 - a few players have emerged at key positions.

On the defensive line, senior John Sua appears ready to step in at nose tackle for departed starter Ray Kibble, while returning starter Vai Lutui has been impressive at the other tackle spot, Snyder said.

Senior Arthur Brown is entrenched at middle linebacker and junior Tre Walker on the weak side, but seniors Jarell Childs and converted cornerback Justin Tuggle continue to battle for the job at strong-side linebacker. Snyder also singled out grayshirt freshman Mike Moore, a spring arrival from Skyline High School in Dallas.

Seniors Thomas Ferguson and Jarard Milo are the top candidates to replace Tysyn Hartman at strong safety.

On offense, Snyder singled out returning senior starters Nick Puetz at left guard and Travis Tannahill at tight end, along with quarterback Collin Klein. He also gave high marks to senior kicker Anthony Cantele and junior running back Robert Rose, who is battling Angelo Pease for the No. 2 spot behind junior incumbent John Hubert.

Getting after it

The Wildcats have had one major scrimmage last Wednesday and some mini-scrimmages so far, and they have been spirited according to the players.

"They get pretty competitive," Sexton said. "The thing with our team, unlike most teams in the country, I think you hear about defenses hating offenses and offenses hating defenses.

"We definitely don't have that here. Everybody knows that at the end of the day we're on the same team and come fall we're going to be playing together for the same goal on Saturdays."

That doesn't mean anybody is holding back, said center B.J. Finney.

"Nobody's fighting, but we have our pads on and we're using 'em, if that's what you want to get at," he said.