81 Days To K-State Football: Kyle Klein Player Preview

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For our next installment of the 100 day countdown to kickoff against North Dakota State University, 81 is the number of days left as well as the jersey number worn by receiver Kyle Klein. Kyle’s older brother, Collin, became a household name not only in Big 12 territory but around the nation while coming in third in Heisman voting this year. And with experience at the position while Collin has moved on, Kyle appears ready to step out from his brother’s shadow.

Kyle Klein followed his brother to K-State where he both grayshirted in 2010 and then redshirted on the team in 2011, and will be entering his second year of eligibility in 2013. Standing at 6’4″, 210 lbs, Kyle also brings the size to the position that his older brother exhibited before switching to the quarterback position. However, Kyle experienced quite the road to the receiver position.

As a junior in high school, Kyle was an all-conference player at the quarterback position. His senior year, he was an All-State selection at safety while also playing tight end. His senior year production was incredible, with 113 tackles and five interceptions on defense while also catching 47 passes for 853 yards and 13 touchdowns. Kyle did not earn a scholarship at K-State because of his brother – he earned it by being a damned good athlete and the 15th ranked player in the State of Colorado.

Yet Kyle Klein’s journey to wide receiver didn’t stop after high school. Recruited as an “athlete,” he was first asked to play defensive end before being converted to tight end. And then, prior to the Cotton Bowl, he began practicing with the wide receivers – the unit he should continue playing with in 2013. Although Klein saw the field in 2012, he did not record any receptions. However, there are three reasons to expect him to achieve some level of production this season:

  1. Chris Harper is gone. The team’s #1 wide receiver and fourth round pick is now playing for the Seattle Seahawks, which means his 857 receiving have to go to someone else; Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson can’t take them all.
  2. As a freshman, it can be difficult earning substantial playing time. With his (redshirt) sophomore year coming up, Klein has more experience under his belt and has developed into a better player.
  3. He’s lost weight. Transferring from the defensive end to wide receiver position requires a substantially different skill set, and he was not always 205 pounds. However, Klein has been losing weight and gaining speed in response and has brought his 40 time down to 4.60 seconds. His new size should allow him to create impossible mismatches – fast enough push secondaries and tall enough to create extreme mismatches.
Kyle Klein came to K-State as an athlete without a position, and there’s still a chance he could move again. However, he has the skills and experience with his current spot now to succeed in the wide receiver role. Additionally, the position has been blurred recently with pass-catching tight ends lining up away from the line on occasion and acting more like receivers than any sort of blocking threat. He brings threat to defenses unmatched by any other player on the team, and should serve a unique role on K-State’s offense over the next three years.

To work backward in the countdown, visit 82 days, where we preview Dakorey Johnson’s anticipated work at the outside linebacker position.