Collin Klein may play quarterback for Kansas State, but on Friday he attended Johnny U.
In town to receive the 2012 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Klein spent part of the day viewing Unitas' memorabilia at the Sports Legends Museum, kibitzing with John Unitas Jr. and several old Colts, and visiting the scupture of the late Hall of Fame quarterback outside M&T Bank Stadium, where he reverently touched the toe of the 13-foot statue.
"This is amazing. He [Unitas] was so special," said Klein, the 26th recipient of the award and a rare unanimous choice of the six-member selection committee. For the year, the 6-foot-5 senior completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns in leading the fifth-ranked Wildcats to an 11-1 record.
"We judge candidates on character, integrity, athleticism and teamwork, in addition to their stats," Unitas Jr. said. "All of those attributes of my father, I see in Collin.
"He's humble. He's genuine."
Klein, 23, is also one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, the winner of which will be announced Saturday night in New York.
"I wear it proudly, for sure," Klein said.
"I enjoyed watching you play last week [in a victory over Texas]," Berry told him. "I thought, who's that big guy? I'd put him at tight end."
Klein, who played wide receiver as a freshman, laughed.
"You're a hell of an athlete, and you run better than [Unitas]," Orr said.
"There's incentive, when people are chasing you," Klein said.
He spent several hours in the museum at Camden Yards, examining everything from Unitas' trademark high-topped shoes to his blue-and-white Colts jacket to the very bed in which he was born.
Klein listened to the Colts' fight song. He watched grainy highlights of Unitas' career. He also seemed interested in Unitas' first NFL contract, which he signed in 1956 for $7,000.
Would he ask for more, following the pro draft, the quarterback was asked?
"We'll see what happens," Klein said. "The cost of living has gone up a little, I guess."
Afterward, he said, he felt better prepared for the ceremony Friday night, when he was to accept the bronze statue and the gold ring that goes with it.
"My dad has told me stories [about Unitas]. But I was excited to hear more," Klein said. "Now, having spoken with Mr. Berry and Mr. Orr, I could tell in five seconds the impact [Unitas] had on them — and how special he was."