Northern Illinois University punter Tyler Wedel (McFarland, Wis./McFarland) has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2014 Ray Guy Award, the Augusta Sports Council and Ray Guy Award Committee announced Friday.
“Tyler is playing like a senior,” said NIU head coach Rod Carey. “We asked him to do a lot early and he did, but we knew it was having an effect on all three areas, and did not allow him to do as well as if he could concentrate on one. Now that we have been able to take some of those other duties off him, it has allowed him to excel in the punting game.
“This is a nice accolade for Tyler and I hope he goes further with it because he certainly deserves it.”
Wedel, the only representative on the list from the Mid-American Conference, is averaging 41.8 yards on 44 punts this season. The Huskie senior has been an effective weapon as a punter for NIU this season. He has pinned the opposition inside the 20-yard line 18 times this season, and has landed five punts inside the 20 in a game twice this season. He has had 12 punts downed inside the 10-yard line in 2014. His current career average of 41.0 would break the school record.
Wedel’s punting played an integral role Nov. 5 in the Huskies’ 35-21 victory at Ball State. He averaged 42.4 yards on a season-high eight punts and pinned the Cardinals inside the five-yard line on three separate occasions. His career-long 64-yard punt in the fourth quarter forced the Cardinals to start on their one-yard line. Only one of Wedel’s punts on the day was returned, and that return went just two yards. He also averaged a career-high 46.4 yards on five punts at Arkansas and has 11 punts of 50 yards or longer on the season.
Semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award were selected by virtue of their overall statistics and contribution to the team, with particular emphasis on net average, percentage of punts inside the 20 and percentage of punts not returned.
Behind Wedel, NIU leads the MAC and ranks 15th in the country in net punting as opponents have returned 14 punts of his 44 punts for just 31 yards. The Huskies are also first in the MAC and third in the country in punt return defense, allowing an average of 2.2 yards a return. More than 40 percent of his punts have started opponents inside the 20 and he has zero touchbacks.
Named in honor of Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Ray Guy, the Ray Guy Award is presented to the collegiate punter of the year. A national voting body of FBS coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners will decide the three award finalists, who will be announced on November 24.
Voters will then cast a second round of ballots to decide the winner, which will be announced December 11.
For more information on NIU football and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.