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Utah’s Wishnowsky looks to repeat Ray Guy Award; BYU’s Linehan on watch list

Utah’s Wishnowsky looks to repeat Ray Guy Award; BYU’s Linehan on watch list

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has had a player win the Ray Guy Award for the past three seasons and now they will be looking for a fourth consecutive win.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky was named to the 2017 Ray Guy Award watch list Wednesday. Joining him on the watch list is BYU’s Jonny Linehan.

The Ray Guy Award is presented annually to the best college punter of the year by the Augusta Sports Council and is one of the awards that the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) presents.

Wishnowsky won the award last season as a sophomore, beating out punters from all football conferences. In the 2016 season, he was named to the first-team All-Pac-12 and led the nation in net punting. Wishnowsky also led the nation and set a school record for 30 punts of 50 or more yards in one season. He also led the nation in punts inside the 10-yard line with 17.

Prior to starting for the Utes in 2016, Wishnowsky played one season at Santa Barbara Community College in 2014 after prepping at Lumen Christi College in Australia.

Linehan is also a candidate for the award for his second year in a row. The senior punter from New Zealand averaged 42.5 yards per punt in the 2016 season with 30 punts dropping inside the 20-yard line. His debut college football season was in 2015 after he helped the BYU rugby team win three national championships.

The University of Utah has been dominating when it comes to punters in the past few years with Tom Hackett winning the Ray Guy Award in 2014 and 2015, with Wishnowsky taking over the award in 2016.

While Hackett was at Utah he set the school record for most career punt yards at 10,933 and had 68 punts of 50 or more yards, which include four punts of 70 or more yards.

Although Wishnowsky is a favorite to win the award again, Michael Dickson of Texas, Joseph Davidson of Bowling Green, Johnny Townsend of Florida and Zach Sinor of Oklahoma State, along with Linehan, are all returning to the Ray Guy watch list.

The award is named after the Southern-Miss alum who played in the NFL for the Raiders in the 1970s and '80s. He was the first punter to ever be taken in the first round of the NFL draft. He led the NFL in punting three times and was also on the Raiders for three Super Bowl wins.

The complete list of candidates for the Ray Guy Award will be released at the end of October. The top 10 finalists will be announced on November 16 with the top three finalists being decided upon on November 21. The winner of the award, along with several other NCFAA awards, will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards on December 7.

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