The first time Bjorn Werner saw Michigan’s new class-of-2022 tight end commit Marlin Klein was at the Gridiron Imports Camp he hosted in Europe during the summer of 2018.
Werner was amazed. There were a lot of prospects on the field but few had Klein’s length and natural ball skills.
“We knew right away,” Werner said of the potential to play major college football.
And with help from Werner and several others, it’s a potential the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Klein is still tapping into.
A little over a year removed from meeting Werner and performing well in that camp, Klein found himself moving from Germany to the United States to continue pursuing his dream of playing college football and beyond. Klein is still relatively new to the game having played only played four years so far, but he continued to flash that potential at Rabun Gap (Ga.) Nachooche School in his first season with them last fall which ultimately led to the likes of the Wolverines, Arizona State, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Nebraska, TCU, Virginia Tech and West Virginia among others to extend a scholarship.
“Marlin didn’t even scratch the surface yet,” Werner said. “It’s all pure natural ability and once he gets in the right scheme, he will explode!”
Werner knows a little bit about that explosion himself.
In 2013 Werner became the first from Germany to hear his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft after earning All-American honors at Florida State. He had moved to the US at 16-years old where after three years of playing at Salisbury School in Connecticut chose FSU over Florida, Oregon and Cal before making an instant impact in Tallahassee. When his pro career ended, Werner started Gridiron Imports to help young men like Klein find their path.
“Natural runner, natural catching the ball,” Werner said of Klein. “Put him in the weight program in college and he is a 6-5, 245 Travis Kelce style tight end that will cause a lot of mismatches.”
Klein started watching football when he was 11-years old. A couple years later he finally got a chance to put the pads on.
“I started loving the game of football after my first practice for sure,” he said.
A year later Klein said he was selected to the “all-state team” in Germany in 2017 and that’s when he knew he had a future on the gridiron. He was excited to come over the pond and test himself last year where he caught 15 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns. He is currently tabbed by the 247Sports Composite as the No. 18 tight end in the 2022 class.
“I just wanted to play against the best and improve myself as a player and student,” he said of the move.
This isn’t the first time Michigan has landed a player out of Germany, securing a pledge from defensive lineman Julius Welschof in the 2018 class who earned his first letter last fall after red-shirting the campaign prior. Klein took a visit to Ann Arbor in September and saw everything he was looking for. Coming into the trip he already had a strong connection with future position coach Sherrone Moore.
“It just felt like Germany,” Klein said. “It was really clean, the people there were really nice and the weather. I have a really good relationship with the coaching staff at Michigan.”