Football: In final collegiate game, former lineman Trey Klock embraces moment in the spotlight


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Trey Klock speaks to the media after the Holiday Bowl. The senior superback shined in the spotlight against Utah.

Ella Brockway, Copy Chief


SAN DIEGO — Trey Klock’s path to Northwestern was anything but direct.

A three-star prospect from central Pennsylvania who played five different positions during high school — ranging from spots on the offensive and defensive line to tight end and even quarterback — he spent the first three years of his college football career at Georgia Tech as a offensive tackle. He joined the Wildcats as a transfer in 2017, seeing time on special teams and in goal-line situations.

The 6-foot-4, 296-pound senior superback waited for his moment. This August, he told PennLive that he would often ask NU offensive coordinator Mick McCall “to throw me in there every time we’re in a passing situation,” and that he was “always joking about letting me be a playmaker and do my thing.”

Late in the third quarter of the Holiday Bowl against Utah on Monday, the joke turned into reality. On a trick play, he lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage and ran straight into the end zone, catching a 20-yard pass from quarterback Clayton Thorson to give the Cats a lead they wouldn’t lose en route to a 31-20 win over the Utes.

“I told my coaches, ‘I played tight end in high school, I’ve been ready to do this,’” Klock told the Daily. “I’m just so thankful they believed in me and gave me a shot. The play was just unbelievable.”

Klock said the Cats had been practicing that particular play throughout the week, and he was just patiently waiting for it to be executed. In the postgame news conference, coach Pat Fitzgerald — to nods of agreement from defensive backs Jared McGee and J.R. Pace — even joked that the trick play hadn’t even worked that well in practice.

Five years removed from the last time he caught a pass in an official game setting, Klock said the seven points weren’t even his first priority as he ran straight towards the goal line.

“I saw the guy coming down to tackle me and my first thought was ‘Just don’t fumble the ball,’” he said. “I’m on the two-yard line, just don’t fumble (because) I would never hear the end of that. So I just held on.”

There was no fumble, and as senior guard J.B. Butler — whose job was to line up as a wide receiver and wave his arms up and down in the air, pretending he was going to get the ball — said, the play worked to perfection.

“The play was great, (but) I was more happy for Trey,” Butler told the Daily. “I was so happy that it was Trey in there doing it. He’s my best friend, and it was just awesome to see. I’m glad it worked, cause that was sweet.”

The touchdown, both the first catch and the first score of Klock’s college football career, was part of NU’s third-quarter, 28-point comeback. Three of the Cats’ four scoring drives in that period came after a Utah turnover — the drive that gave NU its first lead of the evening was on the heels of a fumble recovery by Pace — and the senior credited the defense for putting him in the position to score.

The win over the Utes made this year’s senior class the winningest in school history, with three straight bowl wins for the first time ever, 36 wins in four years and a Big Ten West title under its belt.

Though Klock may not have been with the Wildcats for that entire journey, Fitzgerald was sure that the senior would never forget how the ride ended.

“You think about lasting moments in their lives … (Klock) finished his career with an exclamation point,” the coach said. “I mean, how cool is that? He’s going to be 44, talking to his kids about that touchdown catch he had in the Holiday Bowl. (I’m) just so happy for him.”

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