MANHATTAN, KS. (KSNT) – Preseason watch lists, awards and power rankings never mean much to football players, or at least that’s what they say, because they have to back it up on the field.

For K-State football players, there is an honor that holds some weight.

The Wildcats unveiled their 2023 captains this week, a tradition voted on by the players themselves.

Amongst the captains is quarterback Will Howard, who got the honor after years of trying to make his name known in Manhattan.

“We couldn’t have a better group of captains to lead this team,” Howard said. “I think…you look at, we have three walk-on guys, a JUCO guy. You talk about stories and guys that have been through it, every single one of us has a story.”

We know Howard’s story; combine that with three walk-ons and a junior college transfer, and it’s a special award.

Howard says that this journey of perseverance is an example to younger guys in the program.

“…the success you can have, not having everything handed to you,” Howard said. “That’s who we are, that’s who K-State is.”

Center Hayden Gillum, a former-walk-on-turned-captain, says the honor is a dream come true.

“That’s something that, when I got here, it would always be so cool,” Gillum said. “They have the wall of captains downstairs, it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly at K-State. It’s been a journey. When you’re a freshman, a walk-on, you don’t have a huge voice. Somebody told me early on, just lead in you circle. And that’s kind of what I’ve continued to do.”

All-American offensive lineman Cooper Beebe says that being named captain means more than any of the preseason honors he’s fallen on.

“That means a lot more to me than anything, knowing that these guys trust me and voted on me to be the leader of this team,” Beebe said.

The Wildcats open the season against Southeast Missouri State at home on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m.