GrGolden Gopher sophomore punter Preston Gruening made the final cut to become one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award. Wisconsin senior Kevin Stemke and California senior Nick Harris are the other two finalists.
Gruening, who handled kickoff duties in 1999, has been 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 45.2-yard average. His first punt this season was a career-long 65-yarder vs. UL Monroe. Seventeen of Gruening's 46 punts have been for 50 or more yards, including four for more than 60 yards. Gruening, also responsible for holding on field goal and conversion attempts, connected on a 45-yard touchdown strike to Elvin Jones against Northwestern.
Gruening was named to the Football News First Team All-America list last week, along with teammate Ben Hamilton. Gruening is also a District V Academic All-America Finalist with a 3.35 grade point average in the prestigious Carlson School of Management, and is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
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. 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.