Trying out with Texans, Klein loves QB

Trying out with Texans, Klein loves QB
May 10, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Collin Klein was a finalist for the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

(USA Today Images)

Collin Klein is a quarterback.

Nothing else.

The former Kansas State QB, who was a finalist for this year’s Heisman Trophy, is with the Texans for their three-day rookie camp. He hasn’t signed a contract. Instead, he’s in Houston on a tryout basis but he’s trying to prove he can play quarterback in the NFL.

There had been plenty of talk about the possibility of Klein moving to tight end to make the transition to the NFL. But the Texans brought him in to look at him as a quarterback. And Klein appreciates it.

“That’s what my heart, that’s what I’ve said from the very beginning,” Klein said. “The chance to do that is all that you can ask for.

“It’s just what I love to do. I just love to throw the football, compete out there with my teammates. I love the mental part of strategy that you have to have at that position. It’s a constant game of getting better.”

While he was a good quarterback in college, some are comparing Klein to former Florida Gator Tim Tebow, whose game hasn’t translated well to the NFL. Some thought Tebow should change positions and he hasn’t.

And Klein isn’t in a hurry to give up quarterbacking either.

“I’m gonna go until that door closes with about eight locked latches on it,” he said. “We’re gonna play quarterback. Again, that’s my heart. That’s what I love to do.”

Klein was very good in 2012. At Kansas State, he threw for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 924 yards and 23 touchdowns. He led the Wildcats to an 11-1 regular season record and into the Fiesta Bowl, where they lost to Oregon.

Klein finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting this year behind Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.

He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy but on draft day, didn’t have his name called. Klein admitted that not being drafted was disappointing but said it was a “joyful moment” when the Texans called about 10 minutes after the draft concluded. He said the Texans contacted him some leading up to the draft, enough for him to know they were interested.

While there was talk about Klein’s changing positions, he said no teams contacted him about playing another position. He said he thinks they honored his wishes to be a quarterback.

This offseason, Klein has been working with former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer, who reached a level of success in the league while being a mobile quarterback. The two were set up through Klein’s agent and have been working on “little things” like footwork and timing.

Klein has also changed his throwing motion and thinks his new one is much better.

“You know what, I think he’s come a long way,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “Because I know what he did in college and obviously I’ve talked to Jake (Plummer) and I know what they’ve been working on. The first thing that jumped at me is that he knew exactly what he was doing after coming out of a meeting so that tells you how sharp he is. Obviously, all that other stuff you can work on. Obviously, it’s a big opportunity for him and it’s a step in the right direction this morning.”

The Texans have four quarterbacks on the roster; they would have five if they signed Klein. Matt Schaub is the starter, T.J. Yates is the backup. Case Keenum, who is also in rookie camp, is the incumbent third-stringer and Stephen McGee is a challenger. There’s a logjam in front of the former Heisman finalist.

“Hey, any opportunity is an opportunity,” he said. “Every day for everybody in the NFL is a tryout. However that opportunity comes, it’s still an opportunity.”’

Since being in Houston, Klein has gotten a chance to learn plenty from Keenum, who was with the Texans on their practice squad last season. He’s also been working quite a bit with first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, who is also Klein’s roommate.

“Oh my gosh. The throwing radius is pretty big,” Klein said of throwing to Hopkins.

Klein didn’t actually start playing organized football until his freshman year of high school. Before then, he was a basketball player. But since then, he’s fallen in love with the game and especially the quarterback position.

“It’s what I love to do,” Klein said about playing QB. “If you’re doing what you love to do, you’re not working a day in your life.”