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Monday, August 25, 2008
Ranking the Big Ten Kickers/Punters

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 Andy Lyons/Getty Images
 Indiana's Austin Starr is the Big Ten's best kicker.

After getting a release about Indiana's Austin Starr making the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list, I realized that my position rankings never made it to the kickers and punters. We wouldn't want to forget them, so here are the 10 best all in one list.

1. Austin Starr, PK, Sr., Indiana -- Second-team AP All-America selection last season kicked a school-record 21 field goals on 23 attempts and didn't miss an extra-point try (48-for-48). He also showed his poise under pressure, kicking the game-winning 49-yard field goal with 30 seconds left to beat Purdue and send Indiana to its first bowl game in 14 years.

2. Jeremy Boone, P, Jr., Penn State -- He led the Big Ten and ranked 19th nationally in punting average last season (43 ypp), the third best total in Penn State history. Boone placed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line, and Penn State ranked third nationally in net punting (41.1 ypp).

3. Justin Kucek, P, Sr., Minnesota -- He finished 22nd nationally in punting average last fall with 13 punts traveling 50 yards or longer and 21 punts inside the 20. Kucek's best trait could be longevity. He's responsible for every Minnesota punt during the last three seasons (155).

4. Chris Summers, Jr., PK, Purdue -- As a sophomore, Summers set a school record by converting all 56 of his extra-point attempts and tied Starr for the Big Ten league in kick scoring (8.5 ppg). He has made 97 straight extra-point attempts and last fall produced the second most accurate field-goal kicking season in team history, converting 18 of 22 attempts (.818).

5. Kevin Kelly, PK, Sr., Penn State -- Kelly already owns Penn State's career scoring record and will graduate as one of the program's premier kickers. He has converted 123 of 125 extra-point attempts in his career and rebounded from a shaky sophomore season to make 20 of 26 field-goal attempts in 2007.

6. Ryan Donahue, P, So. Iowa -- Donahue came up huge for a going-nowhere offense, averaging 41.1 yards a kick last season. The figure ranked sixth in the Big Ten, but consider that Donahue had 86 punts, 16 more than any other Big Ten player. And he did it all as a redshirt freshman. Donahue should turn in an all-conference season this fall if Iowa's offense doesn't wear him out.

7. Ryan Pretorius, PK, Sr., Ohio State -- The 29-year-old South African went 48 of 49 on extra-point attempts and technically missed only one field-goal attempt (four were blocked) last season. A former Rugby player, Pretorius has excellent range and was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last season.

8. A.J. Trapasso, P, Sr., Ohio State -- A Ray Guy Award semifinalist last season, Trapasso placed 21 of 53 punts inside the 20-yard line. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten in punting average (41.5 ypp) and earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors against Michigan State, when he had a 43.4-yard average with three punts inside the 20 and a long of 58 yards.

9. Zoltan Mesko, P, Sr., Michigan -- He's built like a linebacker (6-5, 234) but should finish his career as one of Michigan's top punters. Mesko ranked fifth in the Big Ten in punting average last year, but he ranked second in attempts. Unless a new-look offense gets on track quickly this fall, he'll have plenty of work coming his way. Plus, he's got a cool name.

10. Brett Swenson, PK, Jr., Michigan State -- His field-goal numbers dipped a bit last season, but Swenson should be in position to rebound as a junior. He has converted 86 of 87 career extra-point attempts and is 30-for-38 on field goals inside 50 yards.