iSophomore punter Preston Gruening has been named one of the top 10 punters eligible for the first Ray Guy Award. Gruening, who handled kickoff duties in 1999, is one of Minnesota's breakout players this season. He has led the nation in punting average since the first week of the season, and currently has a 46.4 yards-per-punt average. His first punt this season was a career-long 65 yards. Seventeen of Gruening's 41 punts have been for 50 or more yards, including four for more than 60 yards. Gruening is also responsible for holding on field goal and conversion attempts. Gruening is 1-1 passing on the season with a 45-yard touchdown strike to Elvin Jones against Northwestern.
This is the inaugural year for the Ray Guy Award, presented to the nation's best punter. Named after legendary University of Southern Mississippi punter Ray Guy, the award has become one of the most talked about awards in college football this season. Gruening joins two other punters from the Big Ten Conference on the elite list. Three finalists for the award will be announced Nov. 30. The winner of the award will be named on the ESPN College Football Awards Show, which will air Thursday, Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. EST. Questions regarding the Ray Guy Award can be directed to Dawn Lenzie with the Greater Augusta Sports Council at (706) 722-8326 x4.