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UT punter one of three finalists for Ray Guy Award

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Brett Kern gets a first down on a fake punt. When he isn t faking his punts, he s been one of the best kickers in the country.

Jeremy Wadsworth Enlarge

University of Toledo punter Brett Kern was named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award yesterday, the first Rocket to ever receive the honor.

Kern, a senior from Grand Island, N.Y., will travel to Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 6 for the Home Depot College Football Awards show televised on ESPN. He is the first UT finalist for any of the 10 national awards that will be presented on the show.

Last year when I watched the show on TV, I told myself I would do anything to get down there, Kern said. Whether it was working hard in the weight room, going to camps, I wanted to be down there. I wanted the chance at the Ray Guy Award.

A part of me is not surprised because I worked so hard for it, but a part of me is still surprised I m going to be going down to Orlando for the ESPN show.

Kern is a finalist along with Durant Brooks of Georgia Tech and Kevin Huber of Cincinnati. Brooks was a finalist last year.

The award is based on net punt average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line, average return yardage, and percentage not returned. Selected Division I-A coaches, sports information directors, national media, and former punters vote on the award.

Kern s average of 46.5 yards per punt is five-one hundredths of a yard behind Huber s. He pinned 17 of his 50 punts inside the 20-yard line and just 15 punts were returned. The Rockets net punting average is second in the country, with punts being returned an average of six yards against them.

I stayed consistent, which is the most important thing, Kern said. I feel like my previous three years here, I d have a game where I d average 45 and the next game I d have 37. It was back and forth. But this year I think I had 20 punts over 50 yards. When I ve had to kick it deep, I ve been able to do it.

Kern will likely set the UT season record for punting average, depending on how he does in the Rockets final game against Bowling Green on Friday. Brandon Hannum currently holds the record for his 43.5-yard average in 2003.

I m really excited for him, UT coach Tom Amstutz said. He, without a doubt, deserves this award. I ve seen him pin the ball in the corners, kill the ball inside the 20. He s been outstanding. If you re one of three at any position in the country, what an honor that is.

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