Only two players were on both the Lou Groza Award and Ray Guy Award watch lists. One of them will put on a Husker jersey this fall.
If you believe in watch lists (seriously, who doesn’t in July?), NU senior Brett Maher is one of the top 30 place kickers and one of the top 25 punters nationally.
Maher was the only Big Ten punter recognized with the preseason honor. There were six other kickers from the league on the Groza list: Ohio State’s Drew Basil, Michigan State’s Dan Conroy, Indiana’s Mitch Ewald, Penn State’s Anthony Fera, Michigan’s Brendan Gibbons and Iowa’s Mike Meyer.
If you’re a Nebraska fan — and you’re still reading this blog post — you’re to be commended. Well done. Discarding the discontent isn’t easy.
I’m assuming the disgust within Husker Nation for the nation’s two most recognizable special teams honors continues to linger well after the era of the beloved Alex Henery — the NCAA’s most accurate field goal kicker and a game-changing punter who never won the Lou Groza or Ray Guy Awards. Wasn’t even a finalist for either.
Perhaps, the optimistic viewpoint is this: Henery paved the way to national prominence for Maher. … Eh, probably not. Maher was pretty good last year.
But taking into account the possible snub, if Maher’s able to have a successful season as a double-duty specialist, he’ll be assured the local spotlight. There’s no place for a kicker like Nebraska, right?
Maher’s 2011 numbers: Hit 19 of his 23 field goals attempts and led the Big Ten with an average of 44.5 yards per punt (won the conference’s top kicker and punter awards as well).