The Ray Guy Award is presented annually to college football’s most outstanding punter as adjudged by the Augusta Sports Council. The award is named after punter Ray Guy, an All-American for Southern Mississippi and an All-Pro in the National Football League for the Oakland Raiders.
Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is placed on the following statistics; net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line, percentage of punts not returned, number of punts and gross average.
The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners.
THIS YEARS WINNER…
BRADEN MANN, P, TEXAS A&M AGGIES
It’s been a record-breaking season for Texas A&M’s punter Braden Mann.
Mann led the country with a 51.1 yard punting average, breaking former-LSU punter Chad Kessler’s FBS record of 50.28 ypp.
He set the record this year for the most 60-yard punts in a single season that was last reached in 2005 when Wake Forest’s Ryan Plackemeier had 13 punts of that distance. Against UAB, Mann booted his 14th 60-yard punt of the season, setting the new record.
Mann also broke the record for high gross punt average (60.4) in a single game by averaging 60.8 yards per punt against Alabama on Sept. 1.
His average is also the highest in school history surpassing Drew Kaser’s mark of 47.5 yards per punt during the 2015 season.
Season highlights include an 82-yard punt against #13 Kentucky; and punts of 69 and 73 yards against #2 Clemson.
By season’s end, Mann was voted an A.P. first-team All-American; and first-team All-SEC from both the A.P. and the SEC coaches.
Smith leads the AAC and is No. 4 in the NCAA FBS averaging 47.0 ypp. The Bearcats led the American in net punting and rank No. 2 in the NCAA FBS (44.5). Smith had a career-long 72-yard punt against Temple and dropped 23 kicks inside the 20-yard line with 16 going 50 yards or more with only one touchback. Smith is an Aussie.
***Freshman QB Desmond Ridder (6-4/215)
Ridder, a redshirt freshman, burst onto the scene this year, starting 11 games, completing 62.5 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,359 yards, 19 TDs and adding another 574 yards rushing along with five more scores.
Senior LT Dino Boyd (6-4/300)
Boyd joined UC in late July as a grad transfer from Rhode Island and started 12 games at left tackle, helping block for an offensive unit which ranked No. 16 in the NCAA FBS averaging 238.1 yards per game and had the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012.
Senior DT Cortez Broughton (6-3/288)
Broughton really stepped his game up this year. He ranks No. 5 in the AAC in sacks and no. 5 in tackles for loss. His season numbers (6.5 sacks, 17.5 TFL) surpassed his career numbers entering 2018 (3.5 sacks, 10 TFL).
Coach: Justin Fuente
Virginia Tech Players to watch:
Senior DT Ricky Walker (6-2/304)
Walker has 30.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 127 total tackles in his career entering the Hokies’ appearance in the Military Bowl on Dec. 31. In 12 starts at defensive tackles this season, Walker has posted 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a career-high 49 total tackles (23 solo).
**Sophomore WR Damon Hazelton (6-2/217)
Hazelton leads all Hokies with 45 catches for 745 yards, while his 62.1 yards per game receiving average ranks seventh in the conference. The Ball State transfer has posted three 100-yard receiving games for Tech in 2018.
**Sophomore P Oscar Bradburn (6-1/200)
Like Cincinnati’s Smith, Bradburn is also an Aussie. He ranks fourth in the ACC in gross punting average (42.2) and second in the conference with 23 punts inside the 20-yard line. The Sydney, Australia native has helped the Hokies allow only 184 punt return yards this season.
**Sophomore TE Dalton Keene (6-4/242)
Keene has had a breakout season for the Hokies, registered 19 catches for 302 receiving yards (15.9 avg.) to go along with three touchdowns. Keene has also played a critical role blocking in the run game and has started 23 consecutive games at tight end, dating back to last season.