CALEDONIA – When Austin Klug goes to his grandparents' house, it’s hard to stand out.
He’s part of an athletic family. Maybe the most athletic family in Caledonia history.
Austin’s mom, Sara, played college volleyball. His dad, Eric, excelled as a high school baseball player. His uncle, Brad King, played college basketball at Upper Iowa.
Oh, and Klug’s cousins?
Well, southeastern Minnesota knows all about the athletic accolades of Owen, Noah and Eli King.
“We have workouts together and it gets really competitive,” Klug said. “A lot of talking back and forth. It’s really fun. I’d say Noah is the hardest for me to guard. But Owen is second. Actually, take that back, they’re all hard to guard.”
So, Klug has always flown under the radar a little bit.
Last year, he stood at just more than 6 feet tall and weighed a meager 140 pounds. A gust of wind could’ve swooped up the skinny Klug and swept him away.
And then the growth spurt came. In less than a year, Klug has transformed into a 6-foot-4, 190-pound athletic specimen.
"That growth spurt was nice," Klug said with a laugh.
He's not overlooked anymore. The hard-working Klug plays wide receiver and defensive back for Caledonia’s five-time defending state championship football team. He was Caledonia’s best 3-point shooter for a 28-1 basketball team, averaging 11.2 points per game to go along with 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals.
Klug was also going to be Caledonia’s ace pitcher until COVID-19 ripped his junior baseball season away.
He went from throwing in the low 80s to touching 88 mph thanks to the tutelage of Mitch Brown –– the former Rochester Century star and Cleveland Indians’ 2012 second-round draft pick.
Klug has evolved into a college prospect in both basketball and baseball. Which means he’ll have a decision to make: Follow baseball, follow basketball, or potentially play both.
“If I could play baseball and basketball somewhere, that’d be ideal,” Klug said. “I’d love that.”
The University of Jamestown and Winona State have already hosted Klug for virtual visits and are recruiting him to play both baseball and basketball.
“It’s kind of surprising that I could possibly play both,” Klug said. “I thought it would only be one. But it’s crazy how things develop and how you can play both. Especially as a little kid, you’re told to play multiple sports, so to keep that going in college would be awesome.”
Jamestown is attractive because they’re also recruiting Caledonia big man Sam Privet, whom they have already handed a basketball offer.
If he picks Winona State, Klug would have a chance to play with Owen King, who transferred back home after two years at South Dakota State.
But Klug doesn’t have to make a decision right now.
He is busy with football workouts in the morning and basketball practices/scrimmages in the afternoons and evenings. On weekends, he’ll head to baseball tournaments to pitch.
“It’s not easy,” Klug said. “You have to dedicate time to do all the sports and the practices. And at some point in the day, you have to set aside time to text all the coaches and call them and email them, too.”
The future is bright for Klug. The hard work this summer will pay off when sports resume. Caledonia's football team will push for another state championship. Its basketball team is aiming to get back to the state tournament yet again. Eli King will be Batman, and Klug will be Robin. Privet, Casey Schultz, Andrew Kunelius and the rest of the Warriors will have a chance to put together another special season.
Klug will be looking to show off his newfound velocity on the baseball diamond next season, too.
"It’s awesome to be a part of this community," Klug said. "The coaches are basically a dad to you. They teach you life lessons while in sports. They push you so hard that you can complete things that you didn’t think were possible."
Eli King has developed into one of the most sought-after basketball prospects in the Class of 2022. More college coaches will undoubtedly be heading to watch King, and that gives Klug an opportunity to showcase his skills, including his long-range shooting touch.
“Austin Klug is really coming along,” Caledonia head basketball coach Brad King said. “He was throwing down two-handed dunks the other day, too.”
More workouts with Brown should help Klug’s fastball eclipse 90 mph. He’ll have a real opportunity to be a high-level contributor in two sports at the next level.
Klug isn't a secret anymore. And he’ll have plenty of pull at his grandparents’ house, too.