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Four Wildcats earn preseason honors

By The Mercury

Kansas State placed four football players on the 2013 Phil Steele All-American team, including first-team selections B.J. Finney and Tyler Lockett, as the magazine announced its annual preseason picks for the upcoming season.

Finney, a Rimington Trophy Watch List selection, was chosen as the first-team center, while Lockett was selected as the first-team kick returner. Ty Zimmerman was also named a second-team pick at safety, while Tramaine Thompson earned second-team accolades at punt returner.

Finney, a native of Andale, is a former walk-on who has turned into a team leader for the Wildcats. Last season, he was a First-Team All-Big 12 pick and a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, which honors the nation’s top walk-on. The two-time team captain has started all 26 career games, including the last 25 at center heading into his junior campaign.

A junior from Tulsa, Okla., Lockett averaged 32.8 yards on 21 kick returns in 2012, which included two returned for touchdowns — one each against North Texas and Oklahoma State. The 2012 All-Big 12 and All-America pick also caught 44 passes on the year for 687 yards and four touchdowns at receiver.

Thompson provided another return weapon for the Wildcats at punt returner after averaging 19.8 yards a return with one score last season. The Jenks, Okla., native also caught 37 passes for 526 yards and four scores at receiver.

Zimmerman was named an All-American for the first time in his career in 2012 with third-team honors from the Associated Press and second-team honors from A starting safety since his freshman season in 2010, Zimmerman made 50 tackles, including three for losses, while he picked off a career-best five passes in just 10 games. His five interceptions tied for third in the Big 12 and ranked 10th nationally.

The Wildcats return 41 lettermen from last year’s 11-2 Big 12 championship squad, which is led by 2011 and 2012 Big 12 and National Coach of the Year Bill Snyder, who is in his 22nd season overall at K-State.

K-State will return 11 starters, while a total of 18 returners have earned starts during their Wildcat careers.

K-State opens the 2013 season and the new West Stadium Center Aug. 30 with a primetime, nationally-televised game on FOX Sports 1 against North Dakota State.

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