Klein Shares Award with Family
AMES, IOWA - After a long season of playing football and the Fall semester coming to its end, Cyclone linebacker AJ Klein took a well deserved nap Wednesday afternoon. He did not know he would be startled by an unexpected phone call from his father.
"I was shocked to say the least," Klein said.
Leonard Klein told his son that Klein had been named Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 defensive honoree.
"It's huge honor for me personally," Klein said. "It's always been a dream of mine to perform at a high level in a conference like this. To do it and get recognized like this, I don't have words to describe it."
As voted by Big 12 coaches, Klein received the conference player-of-the-year honor, sharing it with Oklahoma lineman, Frank Alexander. Klein was second on the Cyclones' team with 101 tackles. Add that with two sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery combined to make him the first Cyclones to take home the defensive player-of-the-year award.
Klein's fellow Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott earned second-team honors for the second consecutive year along with cornerback Leonard Johnson. A great supporting cast aided Klein's efforts this season.
"Enough credit can't be given to the rest of the team," Klein said. "I can't say enough about my team and how much they've helped me accomplish my goals."
Overall, 10 Cyclones earned conference honors.
"It's another step in the program," Klein said. "Year to year we want our players to get recognized. It just shows recruiting is on the way up and hopefully we see that continue over the next couple years."
Klein and the rest of the Cyclones will highlight the season when they play Rutgers on Dec. 30 in the Pinstripe Bowl in New York's Yankee Stadium.