IU football junior punter James Evans was selected for the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list, the Augusta Sports Council announced on Wednesday.
The New Zealand product currently holds the program’s all-time punting average mark at 43.1 yards after he finished No. 2 on the single-season punt average charts (44.3) in 2022, tied with Jim DiGullio (1992). He finished 2022 ranked No. 2 in punting average (44.3) and No. 3 in total punts (75) in a season, tied with Tyson Beattie (2005). In his career, Evans has 17 career punts inside the 10-yard line and 43 downed inside the 20-yard line.
Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times a punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline and have a positive impact on the team’s success.
Meanwhile, Evans’ punting battery mate, long snapper Sean Wracher, is part of the 25-person preseason watch list for The Patrick Mannelly Award.
The award is presented to the overall best long snapper at the Division I FBS level. The winner must be of senior standing, have started 75% of games in his senior year, snap on punts and placements, and demonstrate a strong mentality, notable athleticism, as well as speed, accuracy, and consistency in their snaps.
A 2022 semifinalist for the Mannelly Award, Wracher is a three-time Phil Steele All-Big Ten selections (2020, 2021, 2022). He has handled the long snapping duty in all 45 career games and helped three teammates earn all-conference honors, as both punter Haydon Whitehead (honorable mention) and place kicker Logan Justus (second team) earned All-Big Ten honors in 2019 and place kicker Charles Campbell (second team) garnered All-B1G in 2020.
A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Wracher’s work helped Whitehead to a spot as a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award after he averaged 43.4 yards per punt to sit No. 4 on IU’s single-season list.
The candidates for both awards will be narrowed in November and announced in December.
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