Nov. 1, 2007
BERKELEY - California's Andrew Larson is the third Golden Bear to make the cut for a national award as the senior has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's top punter. He joins DeSean Jackson, a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award for the top receiver in the nation and Alex Mack, a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award, for the nation's top offensive or defensive lineman .
Larson is averaging 42.1 yards per punt with a net punting mark of 39.3 (best in the Pac-10 and fifth in the nation). He has 39 punts this season and just 15 have been returned for just 50 yards. Eleven of his boots have been downed inside the 20 and just three have gone for touchbacks. This past weekend against Arizona State, he averaged 44.8 yards on five punts with three downed inside the 20, but his best day came against Oregon State, when he set a school record with an average of 55.8 yards on four punts, including a career-long 73-yarder and a 64-yarder. Last season, Larson also keyed the Bears punt team which paced the Pac-10 with a net punting average of 38.3 yards per punt.
The Ray Guy Award is presented by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. This year 56 punters were nominated for the honor. Each of the punters on the list was evaluated on his overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis was placed on the following categories: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line, average return yardage, and percentage not returned.
The award is named for Thomson, Ga., resident Ray Guy, a 2004 College Football Hall of Fame Inductee and perennial candidate for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Guy, who played with the Oakland Raiders from 1973 to 1986, is, perhaps, the first punter who could change the make-up of a game with his kicking style. It is said "hang-time" was added to football vernacular because of Ray Guy, who was known for his soaring kicks and deadly precision. This namesake award, created by the Greater Augusta Sports Council, was begun in 2000. Mr. Guy said about this year's candidates, "It is obvious this outstanding group of punters have focused on team success instead of individual accomplishments. Everyone on our top-ten list have performed unselfishly, qualifying each to be worthy of being named the nation's top punter."
A national voting body of Division 1-A coaches, sports information directors, national media, and former punters will decide the three award finalists, and ultimately the winner of this year's award. The winner will be announced live on ESPN during the Home Depot College Football Awards show, Thursday, December 6, 2007. The winner will again be honored at the Greater Augusta Sports Award Gala in early 2008.
The 10 finalists for the 2007 award are: Durant Brooks (Georgia Tech), Keenyn Crier (Arizona), Kevin Huber (Cincinnati), Brett Kern (Toledo), Andrew Larson (California), Chris Miller (Ball State), Tim Reyer (Kansas State), Louie Sakoda (Utah), AJ Trapasso (Ohio State) and Ben Woods (Buffalo).