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Preseason honors pile up for Wildcats; McGruder joins NBA summer league

If these mentions are anything to go by, the defense and special teams should be strong points for the upcoming season.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The wealth of preseason watch lists and polls are a sure sign that real live football is right around the corner. Thirteen Wildcats have earned preseason mention in Athlon, Lindy's, The Sporting News, and Phil Steele. The players include Jordan Willis, Elijah Lee, and BotC favorite Will Geary. All three are preseason All-Big 12 honorees in all four publications. Senior safety Dante Barnett is a first-team pick for Athlon, Sporting News and Phil Steele, and he's joined by other defensive stalwarts including Charmeachealle Moore (third team, Phil Steele), Duke Shelley (third team, Athlon), and Reggie Walker (third team, Phil Steele).

On the offensive side, Dalton Risner and Terrale Johnson were both named to the second team by Phil Steele, while wide receiver Byron Pringle made the third team.

But top honors went to Kansas State's special teams. The unit was named best in the country, with junior kicker Matthew McCrane earning first team All-Big 12 honors. Punter Nick Walsh and return specialist Dominique Heath were also named to the all-conference team by Phil Steele.

USports, already name-dropped by Jon Morse in yesterday's Slate, is putting together a list of the best running backs for each school in the Big 12 as a follow-up to a similar piece on quarterbacks. If you can't guess which Kansas State players made these lists, please turn in your BotC membership on your way out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Things are looking up for at least one former Kansas State basketball player. Rodney McGruder has been picked to a summer roster spot with the Miami HEAT. The 19-man roster will play in the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League (July 2-8) and the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (July 8-18). McGruder's summer league teammates will include current HEAT players Josh Richardson, Briante Weber and draft pick Justise Winslow, as well as rookies Damion Lee, Nic Moore, and Stefan Jankovic. The team will be coached by HEAT assistant Juwan Howard.

Katie Brand, a senior, has been on tour with the U.S. Collegiate National Team in China. She's been blogging about her adventures. In the latest installment, Brand reflects on winning a championship and the the once-in-a-lifetime trip to the other side of the world. You can read earlier installments HERE and HERE.

Happy weekend, all!