MANHATTAN, KS. (KSNT) – K-State football is starting the 2023 season in the middle of the AP Top 25 rankings.

Checking in at No. 16 amongst the nation’s best teams, some say the reigning Big 12 champions are too low, some are saying the Wildcats are too high.

For players and coaches, the rankings are just another distraction the team is focused on avoiding.

“We try not to pay attention to the preseason stuff because that doesn’t really matter,” K-State quarterback Will Howard said. “All that matters is what we do when the season starts.”

Howard added that he thinks his team deserves some hype, but they shouldn’t think too much about it.

“Reigning Big 12 champs, we’re getting more attention in the preseason. It’s great, I think it’s well-deserved, but it doesn’t really mean all that much because there’s still a ton of work to be done,” Howard said.

Veteran wide receiver Phillip Brooks says he doesn’t care about the rankings, regardless of whether or not he thinks his team is too high or too low.

“We’ve always had an underdog mentality, so I don’t think it’s going to change anything, as far as preparing for our work,” Brooks said. “We’re not going to throw no temper tantrum, or nothing like that. We’re real confident in how we play.”

Offensive coordinator Collin Klein reflects the same message as his players.

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. It doesn’t matter if they don’t think you’re worth a lick, or they think you’re pretty good. At the end of the day, we got 12 guaranteed opportunities to prove them right or wrong,” Klein said. “At the end of the day, just trying to take it one step at a time, and be the best unit we can be.”

K-State opens the new season on September 2 at home against Southeast Missouri State.