Oregon’s prolific offense may have captured the imagination of college football fans across the country but it hasn’t done any favors for senior punter Jackson Rice. Yet despite lacking the number of attempts to officially qualify among last year’s individual national leaders, Rice again has caught the attention of the Augusta (GA) Sports Council by being one of 25 candidates named to the watch list for the Ray Guy Award honoring the top collegiate punter in the country.
Rice’s 45.9 yards-per-kick average would have led the Pac-12 Conference and ranked sixth in the country in 2011 except his 48 punts fell shy of the 3.6 attempts per game required to be included among the national rankings by only three attempts. His average was good enough to rate second on the Ducks’ all-time single-season chart behind only 12-year NFL veteran Josh Bidwell (46.0 avg., 1998).
And it didn’t stop Oregon from leading the country in net punting as a team, averaging 41.5 yards per kick a year ago.
The Moraga, Calif., standout was one of three finalists for the award last season as a second-team all-conference honoree, placing 17 of his 48 kicks inside opponents’ 20-yard line while allowing only 17 of his punts to be returned. In addition, he booted at least one punt 50 yards or more in 12 of 14 games.
His punting average improved from 42.3 yards per kick in 2010.
Ten semifinalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 9, with the top three finalists determined by a panel of Football Bowl Subdivision sports information directors, coaches, national media representatives, and former Ray Guy Award winners. The winner will be announced as part of ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards show in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 6.