Is Collin Klein the Best K-State QB Ever?

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Bishop, Sproles, Roberson … Klein. The 2011 football year put together by Collin Klein certainly is in the conversation of being one of the best in K-State history.

2011 one special season for Wildcat quarterback

Here's a question to discuss over your New Year's celebrating: Where does Collin Klein's 2011 season rank among the greatest individual seasons in Kansas State history?

While a knee-jerk reaction would be that it was a really, really good year, but not among the greatest, consider these facts.

For a single K-State season:

• Klein's 26 rushing touchdowns ranks No. 1, shattering Mack Herron's previous record of 10 set in 1969.
• Klein rushed for at least 100 yards five times, which ranks No. 1 among all quarterbacks in KSU history.
• Klein's 156 points smashed the former record of 135 points by kicker Martin Gramatica in 1998.
• Klein's 1,099 rushing yards ranks No. 1 for all quarterbacks to ever wear the purple and white. The rushing total also ranks No. 10 for all Wildcat players.
• Klein rushed for 1,099 yards and passed for 1,745 yards becoming only the second 1,000-1,000 Wildcat along with Ell Roberson in 2002 (1,032 rushing, 1,580 passing).

"There are no words to explain Collin," said Wildcat receiver Tramaine Thompson. "He is our team leader and is very tough."

Among all Big 12 backs this season, Klein's 91.6 rushing average ranked sixth with his 293 rushing attempts being 64 more than any other back; his 13.0 points per game ranked first in the league; his 26 rushing touchdowns ranked first; his 237 yards of total offense per game ranked seventh; and, his 38 total touchdowns accounted for by rushing-passing was second only to Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III's 45.

In Tim Tebow fashion, Klein led K-State to eight victories by seven points or less, which included defeating Iowa State 30-23 on the final Saturday of the year leaving Cyclone quarterback Jared Barnett to say, "He put his team on his shoulders and really did what was needed to win."

That comment was true week, after week, after week.

Klein had that ‘it' factor of doing whatever it took to win games.

Five times he rushed for at least 100 yards, plus had two others over 90 yards; twice he passed for over 230 yards; and four times he accounted for at least four touchdowns in a single game, and in four other games three touchdowns.

After he rushed for three scores, passed for another and accounted for 375 yards of total offense against No. 3 ranked Oklahoma State, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said, "He's a good player. He's a good runner. He's smart and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He is a good football player."

Oh, and this doesn't address the fact that during the last two or three weeks of the season he didn't practice due to injuries leaving coach Bill Snyder to say, "He's tough-willed, tough-minded, physically tough, disciplined and an extremely fine football player and person."

Oh, and this does not address the fact that he's an excellent leader thinking "team" first and never of his own individual heroics.

"One component does not work without the other," said Klein of KSU's team. "Our defense gets us a turnover and a short field, and our special teams makes sure that our backs are never against the wall. Things like that are huge, and being able to play together is important."

But now back to the original question: What are the greatest single seasons in K-State history, and where does the 2011 campaign of Collin Klein rank among them?

Here's one voter's opinion: (The rankings shown are what they were at that particular time.)

HONORABLE MENTION LIST
(alphabetical)

LYNN DICKEY, 1969 –

Passed for 2,476 breaking the single-season record by over 900 yards, plus broke the single-season touchdown record by six when he passed for 14 scores. (Editor's Note: I admit, this is a personal fan-in-the-stands favorite season. Every voter gets one personal free pick.)

MARTIN GRAMATICA, 1998 –

Kicked all former records out of the record book with his 22 field goals, which included an NCAA record 65-yarder, plus 69-of-69 on extra points setting a single-season scoring record. The 135 points broke the record by nine, the extra points broke the former record by 23, and the field goals broke the record by 11.

CHAD MAY, 1993 –

Led K-State to its first bowl game for Bill Snyder with 2,682 passing yards, first in KSU history, and 16 touchdowns, first in KSU history. He passed for single-game record of 489 yards against Nebraska. QBed K-State to its first ever bowl victory at the Copper Bowl against Wyoming.

Jordy Nelson, 2007 –

A historic season with122 catches for 1,606 yards and 11 touchdowns. Set a record with eight games of at least 100 receiving yards, which included one run of four in a row. The number of catches was 47 more than any other KSU receiver; the yardage figure was 374 more than any other Wildcat.

Daniel Thomas, 2010 –

Ran like a warrior for 1,585 yards, second high in KSU history, and scoring 19 touchdowns, ranking second in Wildcat history.

THE TOP 5 ALL-TIME WILDCAT SEASONS:

No. 5 – ELL ROBERSON, 2003 –

Total offense of 3,520 yards, second high; 975 rushing yards, second high for QBs; 227 rushing attempts, first for QBs; 2,545 passing yards, 5th high; 143 passing efficiency, fourth high; 24 passing touchdowns, 1st high; accounted for 39 touchdowns, first high. Led K-State to an 11-win season and first championship since the 1934 season and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

No. 4 – Josh Freeman, 2007 –

Set KSU record for passing attempts (499), completions (316) and passing yards (3,353). Ranked second with 276 yards of total offense per game, third in total offense with 3,313 yards, fifth in touchdowns with 18 and had a record four 300-yard passing games, which included one of 404 yards against Oklahoma State. But, it was only good for a 5-7 season.

No. 3 – COLLIN KLEIN, 2011 –

No. 8 was No. 7's favorite number. Picked eighth in the preseason Big 12 poll, K-State ended the year ranked No. 8 in the national BCS poll, and, the Wildcats had eight wins by seven points or less. Set one-year records with 1,099 yards for a QB, five rushing games of at least 100 yards as a QB and 26 rushing touchdowns. His 38 TDs accounted for ranked second and his total offense was fourth. K-State is 10-2 and headed to the Cotton Bowl.

No. 2 – Michael Bishop, 1998 –

Set KSU records for total offense with 3,592 yards, which included 748 yards rushing and 2,844 passing. The 299.3 yards of total offense per game ranked No. 1 as did the passing yards, his passing efficiency of 159.6 and his 23 passing TDs. Threw just four interceptions. Led the Wildcats to an 11-0 regular season, which included being ranked No. 1 in the nation. Finishing 11-2, KSU won the Big 12 North title and played in the Alamo Bowl. Bishop was second in the Heisman voting.

No. 1 – DARREN SPROLES, 2003 --

The quickest feet on turf (don't believe it, ask the Sooners) left defenders grasping at his shadow as he led K-State to a Big 12 title, an 11-win season, and was fifth in the Heisman voting. Set KSU records for rushing yards with 1,986, yards per carry at 6.5, yards per game with 132.4, 100-yard games with nine, All-Purpose yards with 2,735 and rushing attempts with 306. Ranked fourth with his 16 ground TDs.


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