Northern Illinois senior punter Jimmy Erwin makes preseason Ray Guy Award 'watch list'



August 27, 2002

DeKALB, IL --- It’s preseason “watch list” No. 4 for 2002 Northern Illinois University football.

Senior punter Jimmy Erwin (Mastic Beach, NY / Floyd) became the latest Huskie to be selected as a candidate for a national major-college honor Tuesday (August 27) when the Greater Augusta (GA) Sports Council announced the 34 nominees for the Ray Guy College Punter of the Year Award.

“That’s well-deserved,” said Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak after hearing the news. “Jimmy made a tremendous improvement last season with his punting average and hang time. Top 30 or so punters in the country? I would certainly think so. And we expect to see continued improvement in those areas I mentioned.”

The most improved punter in the Mid-American Conference last fall, Erwin upped his punting average from 38.1 yards per kick in 2000 to a school single-season record 41.8 in 2001. In the process, the six-foot, 228-pounder moved from the No. 10 spot in MAC punting two years ago to No. 3 in the league last year.

A preseason Second-Team All-MAC pick in Lindy’s 2002 Football, Erwin ranks as the nation’s No. 24 returning major-college punter prior to the Huskies’ season-opener Thursday (August 29) against Wake Forest University in DeKalb. During 2001, he punted 44 times for 2,507 yards---including a career-long 65-yarder vs. No. 25-rated Toledo.

Erwin placed 15 punts inside the opposition 20-yard line, hit five into the end one for touchbacks, booted two into fair catches, and averaged 40.0 ypp. or better in six games last autumn. A two-year Northern Illinois letterman, he transferred from Nassau (NY) Community College in January, 2000.

Five other Mid-Am punters joined Erwin on the 34-man Ray Guy preseason watch list---including Brian Brandt of Central Michigan, Pat Fleming of Bowling Green State, Jared Fritz of Kent State, Curtis Head of Marshall, and Mike Wafzig of Miami (OH).

The Guy Award will be presented to the country’s best collegiate punter as determined by a national selection committee comprised of sportswriters, coaches, sports information directors, former punters, and committee members designated by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. The committee will select 10 semifinalists in late October and narrow the field to three finalists in November. The recipient will be announced live on ESPN on December 12. The award is named after the former All-America and All-Pro punter at Southern Mississippi and the National Football League Oakland Raiders, respectively.

The three current Northern Illinois standouts mentioned on 2002 preseason national “watch lists” include (1) junior placekicker Steve Azar (Colorado Springs, CO / Highlands Ranch) for the Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award, (2) senior tailback Thomas Hammock (Fort Wayne, IN / Bishop Luers) for the Doak Walker National Runningback Award, and (3) senior cornerback Vince Thompson (Chicago / St. Rita) for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defensive player).

(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek)




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