There were times when Collin Klein's mother couldn't help but worry, when she would watch her son take a snap from center, dodge a couple of defenders and then take off at a gallop.
The play would usually end up with Kansas State's quarterback taking a big hit, the kind that caused Kelly Klein to gasp. The kid would invariably drag himself off the turf, blood usually seeping from his elbows. He would adjust his facemask, hike back his shoulder pads and trundle back to the huddle and do it all again.
"I get emotional because I do worry," Kelly Klein admitted this week. "But he does what he loves to do, so you have to be grateful that he has the physical ability to do it."
Klein's prodigious physical ability, along with his even demeanor, unwavering faith and singular focus on getting better bit by bit all contributed to one of the finest careers in Kansas State history. On Wednesday, he was voted the AP Big 12 offensive player of the year.
"I'm just honored with this opportunity that the Lord has provided me here at K-State," said Klein, who made the All-Big 12 first team as a quarterback and was honorable mention as an all-purpose player. "I'm just happy to represent Kansas State, our team and what we've been able to accomplish this season."
The Heisman Trophy finalist set a slew of records while helping the seventh-ranked Wildcats to an 11-win season, the third conference title in school history and a berth opposite Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Klein is the first player from Kansas State to be voted the Big 12's top offensive player. He received 14 of the 18 votes from members of the media who regularly cover the Big 12, while West Virginia's Tavon Austin got three votes and Terrance Williams of Baylor received the other one.
"It's an amazing thing and it's a huge honor, but the reward, you know, is just seeing him do his thing, and do what he loves to do," said Klein's father, Doug Klein. "Truly, whether it's recognized or not, that's the reward."
Klein's coach, Bill Snyder, was voted Big 12 coach of the year for the third time on Tuesday.
"He deserves all the compliments he can have," Snyder said. "He's awfully good at what he does, and he's awfully good as a leader and he's awfully good as a field manager, and he's awfully good in all the physical aspects of the game — and he's a tremendous person."
Defensive end Devonte Fields of Big 12 newcomer TCU was voted AP's defensive player of the year. He received seven votes to beat out Kansas State's Arthur Brown (four), Horned Frogs teammate Jason Verrett (three), Iowa State's A.J. Klein (two), and Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma (one each).
Fields was also the runaway winner of defensive newcomer of the year, while Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk was voted the conference's top newcomer on offense.
Klein has already won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and is up for several other national awards this week. He's one of three finalists for the Heisman, along with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, which will be handed out Saturday night in New York.
The senior from Loveland, Colo., was recruited to Kansas State under former coach Ron Prince, played for a while at wide receiver, and then transitioned back to quarterback. But he never approached the position in the way most do: He was just as comfortable bulldozing for yards as he was airing it out.
Klein threw for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns this season while running for 890 yards and 22 more touchdowns. He's the first player in the BCS era to have consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdown passes and 20 touchdown runs, and the other three to even accomplish the feat once all won the Heisman: Auburn's Cam Newton in 2010, Florida's Tim Tebow in 2007 and Eric Crouch of Nebraska in 2000.
"Some crazy things have happened to lead our team and myself to this point," Klein said. "There are a lot of reasons for that. There's a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation that have been put in on so many people's part, and so many people have invested in me when I was going through a hard time or struggling."
Kansas State led the league with six first-team All-Big 12 selections: Klein, Brown, offensive lineman B.J. Finney, tight end Travis Tannahill, defensive lineman Meshak Williams and defensive back Ty Zimmerman. The Wildcats also had five second-team selections and eight honorable mentions.
Oklahoma State had the second-most first-team selections with five: running back Joseph Randle, wide receiver Josh Stewart, offensive lineman Lane Taylor and Quinn Sharp, who made it as both a punter and kicker.
Fields was joined on the first team by Verrett and TCU teammate Kenny Cain.
Oklahoma's Jefferson and Colvin were joined by Gabe Ikard on the first team. Baylor's Williams and Cyril Richardson, Texas Tech's LaAdrian Waddle and Kerry Hyder, West Virginia's Austin and Stedman Bailey, Iowa State linebackers Klein and Jake Knott and Texas' Alex Okafor also made the first team.
Center: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, 6-3, 288, Jr., Oklahoma City
Offensive line: B.J. Finney, Kansas State, 6-4, 303, Soph., Andale, Kan.; Cyril Richardson, Baylor, 6-5, 335, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas; Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State, 6-3, 328, Sr., Arlington, Texas; LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech, 6-6, 330, Sr., Columbus, Texas
Tight end: Travis Tannahill, Kansas State, 6-3, 253, Sr., Overland Park, Kan.
Receiver: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia, 5-10, 194, Jr., Miramar, Fla.; Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State, 5-10, 178, Soph., Denton, Texas; u-Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6-2, 205, Sr., Dallas;
Running back: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State, 6-1, 200, Jr., Wichita, Kan.
Quarterback: Collin Klein, Kansas State, 6-5, 226, Sr., Loveland, Colo.
All-purpose: Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5-9, 171, Sr., Baltimore
Kicker: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State, 6-1, 205, Sr., Mansfield, Texas
Center: Joe Madsen, West Virginia, 6-4, 305, Sr., Chardon, Ohio
Offensive line: Blaize Foltz, TCU, 6-4, 310, Sr., Rose Hill, Kan.; Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas, 6-5, 300, Sr., McPherson, Kan.; Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State, 6-9, 324, Jr., New Orleans; Ivory Wade, Baylor, 6-4, 310, Sr., Dickinson, Texas
Tight end: Trey Millard, Oklahoma, 6-2, 256, Jr., Columbia, Mo.
Receiver: (tie) Tavon Austin, West Virginia, 5-9, 171, Sr., Baltimore; Darrin Moore, Texas Tech, 6-4, 216, Sr., Irving, Texas; Kenny Stills, Oklahoma, 6-1, 190, Jr., Encinitas, Calif.; Eric Ward, Texas Tech, 6-0, 204, Jr., Wichita Falls, Texas
Running back — James Sims, Kansas, 6-0, 200, Jr., Irving, Texas
Quarterback: (tie) Landry Jones, Oklahoma, 6-4, 218, Sr., Artesia, N.M.; Geno Smith, West Virginia, 6-3, 220, Sr., Miami
All-purpose — Tyler Lockett, Kansas State, 5-11, 175, Soph., Tulsa, Okla.
Kicker — Anthony Cantele, Kansas State, 5-10, 183, Sr., Wichita, Kan.
Defensive line: u-Devonte Fields, TCU, 6-4, 240, Fr., Arlington, Texas; Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech, 6-2, 281, Jr., Austin, Texas; Alex Okafor, Texas, 6-4, 265, Sr., Pflugerville, Texas; u-Meshak Williams, Kansas State, 6-3, 245, Sr., Sylvester, Ga.
Linebacker: u-Arthur Brown, Kansas State, 6-1, 231, Sr., Wichita, Kan.; Kenny Cain, TCU, 6-1, 225, Sr., Metairie, La.; u-A.J. Klein, Iowa St., 6-2, 248, Sr., Kimberly, Wis.; Jake Knott, Iowa State, 6-3, 252, Sr., Waukee, Iowa.
Defensive back: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma, 6-0, 181, Jr., Owasso, Okla.; Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, 5-11, 212, Jr., Chula Vista, Calif.; Jason Verrett, TCU, 5-10, 180, Jr., Fairfield, Calif.; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State, 6-1, 203, Jr., Junction City, Kan.
Punter: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State, 6-1, 205, Sr., Mansfield, Texas
Defensive Line: Calvin Barnett, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 299, Jr., Tulsa, Okla.; Dartwan Bush, Texas Tech, 6-1, 256, Jr., Clute, Texas; Adam Davis, Kansas State, 6-0, 247, Sr., Folkston, Ga.; Stansly Maponga, TCU, 6-2, 265, Jr., Carrollton, Texas
Linebacker: Bryce Hager, Baylor, 6-1, 235, Soph., Austin, Texas; Ben Heeney, Kansas, 6-0, 225, Soph., Hutchinson, Kan.; Eddie Lackey, Baylor, 6-0, 220, Jr., Murrieta, Calif.; Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State, 5-11, 225, Jr., Missouri City, Texas
Defensive back: Sam Carter, TCU, 6-1, 220, Soph., Alief, Texas; Durrell Givens, Iowa State, 6-0, 210, Sr., Long Beach, Calif.; Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, 6-1, 218, Sr., Brownwood, Texas; Nigel Malone, Kansas State, 5-10, 180, Sr., Manteca, Calif.
Punter: Alex King, Texas, 6-2, 205, Sr., Winston-Salem, N.C.
Offensive line: Jeff Braun, West Virginia; Carter Bykowski, Iowa State; Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech; Pat Eger, West Virginia; Tom Farniok, Iowa State; Trey Hopkins, Texas; Bronson Irwin, Oklahoma; Lane Johnson, Oklahoma; Cameron Kaufhold, Baylor; Tavon Rooks, Kansas State; Jonathan Rush, Oklahoma State; Adam Shead, Oklahoma; Eric Tausch, TCU; Mason Walters, Texas; Daryl Williams, Oklahoma; Duane Zlatnik, Kansas
Tight end: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Ernst Brun, Iowa State; Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State; Jimmay Mundine, Kansas; Jordan Najvar, Baylor; Braden Wilson, Kansas State
Receiver: Josh Boyce, TCU; Mike Davis, Texas; Chris Harper, Kansas State; Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Running back: John Hubert, Kansas State; Lache Seastrunk, Baylor; Damien Williams, Oklahoma
Quarterback: Nick Florence, Baylor
All-purpose: Justin Brown, Oklahoma; Collin Klein, Kansas State; Tony Pierson, Kansas; Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Kicker: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
Defensive line: Will Clarke, West Virginia; Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; David King, Oklahoma; Jake McDonough, Iowa State; Jamarkus McFarland, Oklahoma; Nigel Nicholas, Oklahoma State; Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma
Linebacker: Isaiah Bruce, West Virginia; Jarell Childs, Kansas State; Ahmad Dixon, Baylor; Steve Edmond, Texas; Alex Elkins, Oklahoma State; Josh Francis, West Virginia; Terence Garvin, West Virginia; Joel Hasley, TCU; Will Smith, Texas Tech
Defensive back: Cody Davis, Texas Tech; Javon Harris, Oklahoma; Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma; Karl Joseph, West Virginia; Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State; Bradley McDougald, Kansas; Elisha Olabode, TCU; Joe Williams, Baylor
Punter: Ryan Doerr, Kansas State; Ethan Perry, TCU; Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State
Offensive player of the year — Collin Klein, Kansas State
Defensive player of the year — Devonte Fields, TCU
Offensive newcomer of the year — Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
Defensive newcomer of the year — Devonte Fields, TCU
Coach of the year — u-Bill Snyder, Kansas State