Adams selected to Ray Guy Award Watch List

By on August 23, 2017
Photo courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications Manheim Central grad Derek Adams (96) watches the ball into hands prior to punting the ball away in Kent State’s game at Alabama last September.

Photo courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications Manheim Central grad Derek Adams (96) watches the ball into hands prior to punting the ball away in Kent State’s game at Alabama last September.

In mid-July, Derek Adams was tagged on Twitter by #MACtion.

The 2016 Manheim Central grad, a sophomore punter for the Kent State University football team, was the recipient of some big news.

Coming off a freshman season with the Flashes in which he averaged 40.3 yards per punt, Adams was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List.

The award honors the nation’s top collegiate punter, with the winner being announced during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN on Thursday, Dec. 7.

“I was really excited for a couple of days after getting it, but then I was just like, ‘Time to get back to work and try to win it,’” Adams said in a telephone interview from Kent, Ohio, where the Flashes are preparing for their Sept. 2 season opener at Clemson.

“That was great,” Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn said. “(Derek) was home shortly thereafter that, so we got to talk to him. He’s a pretty humble kid, but what kid wouldn’t like that? You’re getting recognized for what you’re doing and he does it well. I thought it was a neat thing, but now he’s got to go out there and do it. It just means you’re on a watch list. Now you’ve got to go out there and do it. Everybody’s going to be watching you.”

Adams, who was named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week last year after placing four punts inside the 20 at Bowling Green and averaging 42.3 yards per punt, also was selected to Athlon’s Preseason Special Teams All-MAC Team.

A goal for both Adams and the Flashes is for him to earn a net average of at least 40 yards this fall. A year ago, Adams had a net of 36 per punt.

“That’s the main goal,” he said. “I think (the 2016 season) went OK. There’s still lots to improve on. I went back and watched film of myself last season and I can tell that I had some technique issues, so I have to go back and fix that. I definitely feel like I’m more confident this year.”

A couple of his main competitors for the Ray Guy Award are 2016 finalists Michael Dickson (Texas) and Mitch Wishnowsky (Utah). Wishnowsky took home the honor last year after leading the NCAA in punt average (48.6).

The 29 candidates announced on the pre-season watch list by the Augusta Sports Council represent a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) punters.

In pre-season practices at Kent State, Adams is currently averaging 45 yards per punt. He is focused on trying to force more fair catches by opponents.

“The biggest thing is just more hang time, I guess,” Adams said.

Last season, Adams saved one of his best performances for the Flashes’ trip into Bryant-Denny Stadium to face the University of Alabama. There, he set career-high for longest punt three different times with boots of 51, 56 and 67 yards. Three punts were downed inside the 10.

Kent State opened its season last September at Beaver Stadium playing Penn State.

“I loved it, getting that big game atmosphere,” Adams said of playing at Alabama and Penn State. “It’s kinda like what I dreamed about when I was a kid, so that was pretty cool.”

“He had a great year,” Hahn said. “He’s getting to go to some SEC schools and some big schools … He did well.”

This year, Adams and Kent State will get to visit a big-time ACC school when they head into Memorial Stadium to play the defending NCAA champion Clemson Tigers.

“I love the big-game atmosphere, so I’m really excited for it,” Adams said.

The 2017 Ray Guy Award Pre-Season Watch List includes:

  • Derek Adams (So.), Kent State;
  • Jake Bailey (Jr.), Stanford;
  • Matt Bonadies (Jr.), Middle Tennessee;
  • Bailey Cate (So.), Old Dominion;
  • A.J. Cole III (Jr.), North Carolina State;
  • Jake Collins (RS Jr.), WKU;
  • Logan Cooke (Sr.), Mississippi State;
  • Steven Coutts (So.), California;
  • Trevor Daniel (RS Sr.), Tennessee;
  • Joseph Davidson (RS Sr.), Bowling Green;
  • Michael Dickson (Jr.), Texas;
  • Colin Downing (Sr.), Iowa State;
  • Corey Fatony (Jr.), Missouri;
  • Blake Gillikin (So.), Penn State;
  • Jonathan Hernandez (Sr.), USF;
  • Logan Laurent (RS Sr.), Massachusetts;
  • Wade Lees (So.), Maryland;
  • Johnny Linehan (Sr.), BYU;
  • Adam Nunez (So.), TCU;
  • Nick Porebski (Sr.), Oregon State;
  • JK Scott (Sr.), Alabama;
  • Austin Seibert (Jr.), Oklahoma;
  • Tom Sheldon (So.), North Carolina;
  • Zach Sinor (RS Jr.), Oklahoma State;
  • Spencer Smith (RS Sr.), Memphis;
  • Chris Tilbey (RS Jr.), USC;
  • Johnny Townsend (RS Sr.), Florida;
  • Shane Tripucka (Sr.), Texas A&M;
  • Mitch Wishnowsky (Jr.), Utah.

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One Comment

  1. Linda DePatto

    September 5, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article about Derek. It’s nice that your paper is following him beyond the high school years. We have many Lancaster County post grad students who are continuing to excel in college and beyond.

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