Passing on his wisdom
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
More than 100 aspiring young quarterbacks and receivers took part in day one of the Collin Klein Passing Academy on Wednesday at Buffalo Stadium on the campus of Garden City High School.
Klein, coming off a runner-up Heisman season at Kansas State University in which he led the Wildcats to an 11-2 record and a Fiesta Bowl appearance, drilled 100 third through eighth grade kids in the morning and turned around in the afternoon to work with almost 30 high school players.
"It's just awesome that he came over here to Garden City," said Dusty Tempel, who will be a senior wide receiver for GCHS this season.
Tempel's fellow wideout Caleb Tramp, now a junior, agreed.
"It's just a great feeling to meet somebody of that importance — runner up for Heisman — I mean, that's awesome that he came out here, took time out of his schedule and helped us out," he said.
To come out to Garden City, nearly 270 miles from where Klein played his college ball, was not only a great experience for the participants, but for Klein.
"This type of camp is great because you get out into different communities, not one big, long session in one central location," Klein said. "You get out and get to reach some different pockets, and you get to see a lot of different kids from a lot of different places."
The camp is a two-day event that gives area athletes a chance to get on the gridiron with an NCAA Division-I quarterback with Klein's football rÃ©sumÃ©, and learn some of the drills that helped Klein become successful.
During a spirited three-hour afternoon session with the high-school aged group — the third- through eighth-grade camp was from 9 a.m. until noon — Klein, and several other highly-accomplished coaches, led players through drills intended to build athletes from the ground up.
"We do a lot of footwork stuff with the quarterbacks, and really the receivers and running backs," said Klein. "Just solid fundamental mechanics, trying to give these kids as much as they can handle."
The afternoon session finished with players split onto four teams running pass patterns in certain designed situations. With the score being kept, it was a competitive environment where players were able to put the techniques they learned earlier in the day to match up with their peers on offense and defense.
"It went awesome," Klein said at the conclusion of the day. "Across the board, morning and afternoon, (the players) were locked in and working hard, and I feel like they got better and looked like they were having a lot of fun, and that made me have a lot of fun. We had a good time."
But it's not just about coaching football ability for Klein.
"We're trying to give them, obviously, physical tools that they can take back to their teams to better themselves and their teams, but also trying to share some life perspective and character building and leadership," Klein said.
Klein finishes off the camp with day two today, starting at 9 a.m. with the younger group and then coming back for the high-schoolers from 1 to 4 p.m. Then, he heads out for several one-day camps across the state, starting in Manhattan on Friday, Topeka on Monday, Salina on Tuesday and then finally Dodge City on Wednesday. All the while, Klein is still preparing for his shot in the NFL.
"I'm just training and staying ready and hoping to get into camp," he said.
The Houston Texans and the Miami Dolphins have both been in contact with Klein over the past two weeks. The Texans' rookie camp begins Sunday and the Dolphins' camp starts on Saturday.