Jordy Nelson's rise from high school standout at Riley County to college walk-on at Kansas State to NFL star and Super Bowl champion with the Green Bay Packers makes him the ideal poster boy for self-determination and commitment to excellence.

It also makes him the ideal featured guest speaker for the second annual Best of Kansas Preps Awards banquet. The Topeka Capital-Journal and GateHouse Media Kansas are proud to announce that Nelson, the home-grown talent and former three-sport prep star, will serve in that capacity for this year's event, which will be June 13 at the Kansas Expocentre.

"We are thrilled Jordy is coming home," said Stephen Wade, Topeka Capital-Journal publisher and senior group publisher for GateHouse Media Kansas. "He wanted to make Kansas his first post-retirement engagement and I know he will have a great message for those in attendance. His stellar pro and college career after coming out of Riley County High School sets a great example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish."

Nelson recently retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, the first 10 with Green Bay. Nelson finished his NFL career with 613 receptions for 8,587 yards and 72 touchdowns, with his most prolific season coming in 2014 when he set career highs for catches (98) and yards (1,519).

He missed all of the 2015 season with a knee injury, but came back in 2016 to record 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. He spent his final NFL season last year with the Oakland Raiders, catching 63 passes for 739 yards and three touchdowns.

While at Kansas State, Nelson went from walk-on to consensus All-American, setting Kansas State single-season receiving records as a senior with 122 catches for 1,606 yards. As a prep standout at Riley County, Nelson starred in football, basketball and track and was a Capital-Journal Top 5 All-State basketball selection, Second 11 football pick and four-event state track champion as a senior.

One of the state's all-time greats, Nelson has served as a role model for Kansas' high school athletes since his rise to stardom.

"I'm excited to come back home to Kansas and honor all the outstanding local high school athletes," Nelson said.

The Best of Preps event will honor and celebrate the state's top high-school athletes for the 2018-19 school year, covering the entire state — big and small schools alike. Athletes of the year will be named in all 22 sports offered by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Overall male and female athletes of the year, as well as a most inspirational honoree, also will be named.

Last year's inaugural event was a huge success, Wade said, drawing more than 1,100 people for the showcase featuring former Kansas Jayhawk and Boston Celtic Paul Pierce as the guest speaker.

"The Capital-Journal and our GateHouse sister papers throughout the state take great pride in providing unrivaled high school sports coverage to all our audiences," Capital-Journal editor Tim Bisel said. "The Best of Kansas Preps event is a great way for us to pay tribute to those young athletes who work so hard and leave us with so many indelible memories.

"And to have someone like Jordy Nelson — a true Kansas sports icon — celebrate with us, that just makes the occasion all the more special."

The banquet, which will be from 6 to 9 p.m. June 13, is sponsored by Envista Credit Union and The University of Kansas Health System St Francis Campus. Athletes from across the state will receive invitations, and the general public may purchase tickets, as well.

“Envista looks for any opportunity that we can to honor those individuals in our community that have shown diligence and commitment to achieve exceptional  goals — those that give a little extra, work a little harder and pay a stiffer price to achieve excellence. Jordy Nelson certainly exemplifies that spirit,” said Ron Smeltzer, president and CEO of Envista Credit Union. “We are proud to sponsor Best of Preps and recognize student-athletes across the state for their achievements both on and off the field.”

“The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus is proud to support this event honoring the top student-athletes in Kansas," added Steve Anderson, chief executive officer of the Topeka hospital. "The dedication, resiliency and passion that these young people have developed as student-athletes will serve them well as they prepare to become our next generation of community leaders.”

For more information about the event, including how to purchase tickets, visit cjonline.com/preps. To purchase tickets directly, go to: https://purchase.growtix.com/e/2019_Best_of_Kansas_Preps.

To learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact Terri Benson at tbenson@cjonline.com or (785) 295-1130.