Kicker Tyler Davis and punter Blake Gillikin are the latest Penn State football players selected to preseason watch lists for some of the nation's most prestigious awards.
The mid-summer shoutout for the Nittany Lion specialists follows what was a standout 2016 season for both.
After finishing as a semifinalist last year, the Lou Groza Award committee includes Davis on its preseason watch list as he enters his senior season. In 2016 Davis earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference coaches, while media selected him to their second team. Touchdown Club of Columbus honored him with the Vlade Award as the nation's most accurate kicker. He converted 22 of 24 of his field goal attempts. He has never once missed in 73 career extra point tries.
Following a strong freshman campaign, during which he broke the school record for a freshman with 42.8 yards per punt, Gillikin is on the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given to America's best punter. An honorable mention All-Big Ten selection a year ago, Gillikin is one of seven sophomores nominated.
To be considered for the Ray Guy Award, which Utah's Mitch Wishnowsky won last year and is on the watch list again, the candidates have to be at the forefront of a number of statistical categories, including net punting average, number of times punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must also demonstrate team leadership, self discipline and have a positive impact on the team's success.
In Gillikin's first two semesters at Penn State, he has scored a 4.0 grade-point average.
Other Nittany Lions who have been named to preseason watch lists include:
- RB Saquon Barkley and QB Trace McSorley – Maxwell Award watch list for the National Player of the Year
- S Marcus Allen and LB Jason Cabinda – Bednarik Award for the National Defensive Player of the Year
- TE Mike Gesicki – John Mackey Award list for nation’s top tight end
- LB Brandon Smith – Allstate AFCA Good Works team