football

Klein arrives in New York for Heisman

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NEW YORK -- The week has been the craziest of his life, the sleep minimal, but a few hours from heading to The Best Buy Theater for his final stop on this journey, Kansas State Collin Klein remained steady as always on the cusp of the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

"It's definitely been a trek and a pretty fast pace," Klein said, "but I've been able to meet so many great people and just to be able to represent K-State has been just such an honor."

Klein wore blue jeans and a white K-State polo and sat a small bag of Cheez-Its, a bag of Mott's apple slices and a water bottle on a circle table in the concourse on the ninth floor of the Marriott Marquis. Through somewhat tired eyes, maybe the greatest quarterback ever to play at K-State recalled waking at 5:30 a.m. in Baltimore and riding with wife Shalin and his parents on a train to Penn Station in New York City, which arrived shortly after 9:30 a.m.

"This is a different pace," he said. "You'll get run over but it's not by a tractor. You've got to know where you're going. Adaptability isn't one of the 16 goals, but you could throw it in there.

"Last night we were eating some crab cakes and I was like, 'Wait a minute, I'm in Maryland eating crab cakes? What in the world is going on here?' I guess it's the little things in life. It's just a blessing. Some is surreal. We're just taking it one step at a time."

Heisman staff took him through The Best Buy Theater where a large picture of Klein sat between images of fellow Heisman finalists Johnny Manziel and Manti Te'o above the grand stage. He was hurried to do a CBS appearance at the halftime of the Army-Navy football game.

"Finally I got this little snack from the hospitality room," he said.

He chuckled at the thought that he'll travel more than 3,000 this week.

"A lot of early mornings and late nights," he said. "But it's just great to be here."

Klein packed one dark charcoal suit along with a bunch of K-State gear for his three-city jaunt that started at the College Football Awards Show in Orlando, went to Baltimore, where he held the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm trophy in a packed ballroom last night and was the center of attention.

"It was an amazing event," he said. "The Unitas family was very hospitable and I got to meet a lot of great people. It was very special."

While Klein was in Baltimore on Friday, Manziel and Te'o shared center stage at the pre-Heisman media event at the Marriott Marquis. Manziel and Te'o spoke openly about their kinship to reporters and posed with the Heisman Trophy.

Klein's first appearance in front of reporters came only a few hours before the Heisman ceremony.

Klein said he met both Heisman finalists at the awards show in Orlando.

"They seem like two really neat guys and have done a lot for their teams," Klein said. "Good players."

Although Manziel enters as the popular favorite, Klein isn't preparing to not leave with the trophy. He isn't thinking about leaving empty-handed.

"One of the 16 goals is 'Expect to Win,'" he said. "Obviously, you can't prepare and think that way. I worked as hard as I possibly could and took advantage of every opportunity to the best of my human ability. However it ends up, whatever He brings, whatever it is, we'll be grateful.

"You want to win, of course. You don't come to these things not expecting to win.

"That's not the K-State way."

The 6-foot-5, 226-pounder and the only quarterback in Football Bowl Subdivision history to score at least 20 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns in multiple seasons, looks ahead to another important night.

"It's surreal, but there's definitely a reality that you realize what's going on. It's just a great honor and I'm so thankful I can represent my Lord, my family and K-State," he said. "I wish every single one of my teammates could be here. Truly, the family atmosphere and unity we have with our team is amazing.

"I wouldn't trade it for the world."

No. 5 K-State, 11-1, begins preparing a Fiesta Bowl matchup against No. 4 Oregon on Monday in Manhattan.

"I haven't had time to really look back and absorb the season quite yet," he said. "It's been a grind. There'll be a time for that. I'm just trying to absorb this the best I can and then we'll get ready for Oregon."

This marks Klein's first trip to New York City since the Wildcats' suffered a loss to Syracuse in the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. So much has changed since then.

"I had some great memories with my team and just being able to experience the big city from a small-town Loveland, Colo., kid and living in Manhattan, Kan., this is way different," he said.

He's savoring every moment that he's here.

"This is such an opportunity and a moment I'm blessed with," he said. "I know what I represent when I come out here and that's not something to take lightly or to think this isn't important. I'm just enjoying it and I'll go from there."

Asked the legacy he hopes to leave after tonight and after his final game of an outstanding career, Klein paused.

"The biggest thing is that I truly cared," he said, "and that I tried to put other people's needs ahead of myself. I did everything I could for them when I was here. I'll always be a Wildcat. I won't be wearing the helmet anymore for too much longer.

"I'll always be a part of the family."

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