Big Ten: Chris Summers

Here's the second half of my look at special teams in the Big Ten in 2010. For Part I, click here.

  • Kicker: Second-team All-Big Ten selection Stefan Demos returns after connecting on 18 of 25 field goal attempts in 2009.
  • Punter: Demos also has handled the punting duties for Northwestern the last two seasons, although it's not his strong suit.
  • Kick return: Primary return men Stephen Simmons and Jeravin Matthews both are back. Northwestern ranked ninth in the league last year (20.6 ypr).
  • Punt return: Brendan Smith and Andrew Brewer both depart.
  • Quick thoughts: Special teams have cost Northwestern key games in recent years and continue to be a priority for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Despite Demos' Outback Bowl struggles, he remains a very solid option on field goals. Northwestern would be well served by identifying a punter to lighten Demos' load, and redshirt freshman Brandon Williams is an option. Simmons provides a good threat on kick returns when healthy, but NU must identify a few options for punt returns. Incoming freshman Venric Mark could be a factor there. The punt and kickoff coverage teams were average in 2009 and could use a boost.
  • Kicker: Aaron Pettrey departs, but Devin Barclay, whose kick against Iowa sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl, will be back.
  • Punter: Jon Thoma departs after finishing 10th in the league in average (37.9 ypp) last fall. Sophomore Ben Buchanan has a big leg and will step in.
  • Kick return: Primary return men Lamaar Thomas and Ray Small both depart. Ohio State ranked sixth in the league last fall (22.3 ypr).
  • Punt return: Small leaves a pretty big void here after averaging 8.3 yards on a league-high 33 attempts last season.
  • Quick thoughts: Jim Tressel's teams always will be strong in the kicking game, although there are some key spots to fill in 2010. Barclay did a really nice job in relief of Pettrey last fall, but whether he can provide the same long-range threat as Pettrey remains to be seen. Small is a big loss on both return teams, and it will be interesting to see who steps into his spot. Running back Brandon Saine and wideout DeVier Posey both are possibilities. Ohio State covered punts well last fall but finished a surprising 51st nationally in kickoff coverage (21.2 ypr) with a touchdown allowed against Iowa.
  • Kicker: Collin Wagner is back after an excellent Capital One Bowl performance. He connected on 15 of 22 field goal attempts last fall.
  • Punter: Second-team All-Big Ten selection Jeremy Boone departs after averaging 43.3 yards per punt in 2009. Ryan Breen's decision to leave the team creates some uncertainty here.
  • Kick return: Chaz Powell, Devon Smith and Stephfon Green all are back for 2010. Powell averaged 23.2 yards per runback in 2009.
  • Punt return: Graham Zug, Justin Brown, Evan Royster and Drew Astorino shared duties in 2009, and all are back.
  • Quick thoughts: Penn State was surprisingly mediocre on special teams in 2009, and the kicking game should be a focal point this spring. Boone's graduation and Breen's departure leaves no true punter on the roster. The Lions finished 10th in the league in punt returns (5 ypr) last fall and need a true starter to emerge there. Punt coverage was a mess in 2009, as Penn State finished 117th nationally (15.4 ypr) out of 120 FBS teams. With several key personnel losses on both sides of the ball, Penn State can't afford to have the kicking game be a liability this fall.
  • Kicker: Carson Wiggs has the strongest leg in the Big Ten and connected on 14 of 21 field goal attempts last fall. He's back for 2010.
  • Punter: Chris Summers departs after averaging 39.5 yards per punt last fall. Wiggs had four punts in 2009, averaging 36.5 yards.
  • Kick return: Al-Terek McBurse is back after averaging an impressive 24.6 yards per runback as a true freshman. Purdue must find a No. 2 option because Aaron Valentin departs.
  • Punt return: Valentin was the primary return man, but wideout Waynelle Gravesande recorded 11 attempts last fall.
  • Quick thoughts: Purdue made plenty of special-teams blunders in 2009, and for the Boilers to take the next step this fall, their kicking game must get better. Wiggs can boom field goals from anywhere on the field, giving Danny Hope a valuable weapon. McBurse could be a weapon on kick returns, although Purdue must address the punt return team. Kickoff coverage was miserable in 2009, as the Boilers ranked 112th nationally (24.7 ypr). The Boilers also must address their punter position.
  • Kicker: Philip Welch is back after connecting on 17 of 24 field goal attempts as a sophomore.
  • Punter: Brad Nortman returns after finishing fourth in the Big Ten in punting average last fall (42 ypp).
  • Kick return: David Gilreath has been the man on returns for Wisconsin, and he's back. Isaac Anderson also could be an option here.
  • Punt return: Gilreath averaged 5.6 yards and had a 68-yard touchdown as the primary punt returner.
  • Quick thoughts: Welch and Nortman boast plenty of experience as the primary specialists. It'll be interesting to see if Wisconsin sticks with Gilreath as its top return man or opens things up to other players this spring. Bret Bielema likely will spend much more time worrying about the kickoff coverage team, which ranked 119th nationally out of 120 FBS teams last fall (26.4 ypr). Punt coverage was decent, but you can bet Wisconsin will spend a lot of time on special teams in spring ball.

Purdue's Wiggs dials long distance

September, 9, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Most kickers are overshadowed by those who run, pass, catch and tackle, and Purdue's Carson Wiggs was no exception last week.

Sophomore running back Ralph Bolden stole the show for the Boilermakers against Toledo, running for 234 yards, the third-highest single-game total in team history. Bolden's brilliance eclipsed another milestone set by Wiggs at the end of the first half.

The sophomore drilled a 59-yard field goal, which marked the longest in Purdue history and tied for the seventh longest in Big Ten history. Wiggs shattered his own school mark of 53 yards set last year at Ohio State. And the kick might have been good from 65.

"He's nailed some long ones in practice, and I didn't hesitate a bit to send him out there," Purdue head coach Danny Hope said. "We'd talked about it during the week, myself and the coaches with our team, about one of the keys to victory against Toledo would be to be real solid up front, field goal protection-wise. Because if we got within the range that he'd been hitting them in practice, we'd line up and give him a shot.

"He's been nailing them in the 60s in practice. That one sailed through the uprights and landed back in the net somewhere, probably would have been good from 65, 70 yards."

Wiggs took over the kicking duties from Chris Summers midway through last season and connected on 8 of 11 attempts. The 6-foot, 202-pound Texan was ranked as the nation's No. 4 kicker by ESPN's Scouts Inc. in the 2008 recruiting class.

"He has a tremendous leg," Hope said. "He's becoming a much more polished field goal kicker and place-kicker. I believe he can set more records here at Purdue and be one of the great kickers in the country."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Purdue's depth charts were rewritten almost every day of training camp, but head coach Danny Hope drafted the one that counts on Sunday.

It's pretty clear youth will be served this fall at Purdue, as seven freshmen or sophomores are listed in starting roles for the season opener Saturday against Toledo. Sophomore Ralph Bolden, who had a superb spring, got the edge at running back over fifth-year senior Jaycen Taylor, though both men likely will log plenty of carries this fall.

Other items of note:
  • Sophomore Gerald Gooden and redshirt freshman Kawann Short earned the starting spots at defensive end and defensive tackle, respectively, alongside veterans Mike Neal and Ryan Kerrigan. Purdue's defensive line is filled with young players other than Neal and Kerrigan.
  • Senior wide receiver Royce Adams, a converted cornerback, earned a starting job alongside junior Keith Smith and senior Aaron Valentin. Backing them up are a bunch of young players, including true freshmen Gary Bush and Antavian Edison, both of whom have impressed in camp. Adams and Valentin also will return kicks.
  • Purdue is very young at left tackle, with sophomore Dennis Kelly listed as the starter ahead of redshirt freshmen Peters Drey and Monroe Brooks.
  • Sophomore Carson Wiggs will handle field goals and kickoffs, while senior Chris Summers will serve as the team's punter. Wiggs took over field-goal duties from Summers midway through last season.
  • Senior linebacker Jason Werner reclaims his starting job after missing all of last season with back problems. Backing up Werner and middle linebacker Chris Carlino are two promising true freshmen -- Dwayne Beckford and Antwon Higgs.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Thought the position rankings were over? Think again.

We don't forget the specialists on the Big Ten blog, so after a lengthy lull -- blame training camp -- it's time to examine the kicking game around the league. The rankings are based on kickers and punters, return men and coverage units.

Let's begin.

1. Michigan State -- The Spartans return two second-team All-Big Ten picks in kicker Brett Swenson and punter Aaron Bates, who averaged 42 yards on 71 punts. The return game looks a little suspect but a healthy Mark Dell should help.

2. Michigan -- It helps to have the best punter in the league in senior Zoltan Mesko, a leading candidate for the Ray Guy Award. Michigan should be more dynamic on returns with Martavious Odoms and others. The big question here is at kicker.

3. Penn State -- Punter Jeremy Boone didn't get many chances last fall but executed well when called upon. There are questions at kicker after the loss of first-team All-Big Ten performer Kevin Kelly, and Derrick Williams will be missed on returns. Penn State is always good on coverage teams.

4. Ohio State -- A few more question marks here than normal, but Ohio State's special teams track record under Jim Tressel can't be denied. Aaron Pettrey should be fine at kicker and has a strong leg. Ohio State brings back the league's top punt return man in Ray Small. The Buckeyes need to upgrade their kick return unit after finishing 108th nationally in 2008.

5. Iowa -- Punter Ryan Donahue is a stud and likely will set school records by the time he's done. Daniel Murray showed he could make a clutch kick against Penn State, though he remains in competition with Trent Mossbrucker. Andy Brodell is a big loss at punt returner, and Jewel Hampton might not be available to return kicks.

6. Wisconsin -- I really like Wisconsin's young specialists, kicker Phillip Welch and punter Brad Nortman. But you can't rank last nationally in kickoff returns and expect to be high on this list. Wisconsin needs to jump start its returns with David Gilreath.

7. Indiana -- Chris Hagerup is a terrific young punter after nailing 13 punts for more than 50 yards last fall. Demetrius McCray looks solid on kickoff returns. Indiana must replace former All-Big Ten kicker Austin Starr, but Starr really struggled last fall (10-for-17). Heralded freshman kicker Mitch Ewald joins the mix.

8. Purdue -- Carson Wiggs did a nice job at kicker after taking over for Chris Summers, who will handle the punting duties this fall. Purdue needs to improve its punting after finishing last in the league in 2008, but the return game looks solid with Aaron Valentin and Royce Adams.

9. Minnesota -- The Gophers are starting over after losing both of their top specialists. They'll be relying on junior Eric Ellestad and freshman Dan Orseske to step up. It helps to have the league's most dynamic return man in Troy Stoudermire.

10. Northwestern -- All too often, the kicking game has cost Northwestern, most notably in the Alamo Bowl against Missouri. Stefan Demos is finally healthy and could handle both the kicking and punting duties this fall. The Wildcats could use a boost in the return game from Stephen Simmons or Andrew Brewer.

11. Illinois -- I really like sophomore kicker Matt Eller, who beat Iowa with a field goal last November. But it's no secret the Illini need significant upgrades on their punt teams after finishing 10th in punting and last in returns. Florida transfer Jarred Fayson should boost the return game. The Illini must improve their kickoff and punt coverage.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

We don't forget about the specialists on the Big Ten blog -- special teams rankings coming soon, by the way -- and the league has a nice presence on the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list. Four Big Ten kickers made the list, led by Michigan State's Brett Swenson and Wisconsin's Phillip Welch. 

The Big Ten candidates are: 

  • Brett Swenson, Michigan State
  • Aaron Pettrey, Ohio State
  • Phillip Welch, Wisconsin
  • Carson Wiggs, Purdue 

As a freshman, Welch led the Big Ten in field goals and percentage made (1.7 per game, 85 percent) and ranked second in kick scoring (8.1 ppg). Swenson connected on 22 of 28 field-goal attempts and was perfect on extra-point tries (34-for-34).

Pettrey handled the longer field-goal attempts for Ohio State last fall and connected on seven of eight attempts, six of which came from beyond 40 yards. Wiggs replaced Chris Summers as Purdue's top kicker last fall and converted 8 of 11 attempts. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from inside 40 yards.  

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Fifth-year senior Curtis Painter will start at quarterback when Purdue visits No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). Whether Painter takes snaps the entire game remains to be seen.

Boilermakers coach Joe Tiller reiterated Sunday that Painter would start despite replacing the record-setting quarterback with Joey Elliott in the fourth quarter of last week's loss to No. 6 Penn State. Tiller nearly replaced Painter two weeks earlier against Central Michigan and made the switch after Painter completed just 13 of 22 passes for 112 yards and an interception against the Nittany Lions.

Here's what Tiller told The (Lafayette, Ind.) Journal and Courier:

"I'll talk to him probably midweek or so, but I'm not going spend a lot of time on it because of his experience. I tell the quarterbacks every year that anybody can get replaced at any time, don't read anything into it. You get a chance to come back and play, you come back and play your best."

Tiller made the right call to stick with Painter, and Painter strikes me as mature enough to handle his momentary demotion. But it's still somewhat surprising when a guy who likely will finish his career second on the Big Ten's all-time passing yards list gets sent to the bench. Painter has completed just 57.6 percent of his passes with as many touchdowns (5) as interceptions this year. He clearly misses Dorien Bryant and Dustin Keller -- can't blame him there -- and is still trying to build chemistry with his new set of wideouts.

It won't be easy to find a rhythm against Ohio State, but Purdue needs Painter at the top of his game before the season starts to slip away.

Purdue has made a change at kicker after Chris Summers missed two field goals and an extra point against Penn State. Freshman Carson Wiggs will kick for the Boilers at Ohio Stadium

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I'm all for instant replay in college football because getting the calls correct is the most important thing, but the system revealed one of its glitches in the Penn State-Purdue game.

Penn State lined up for fourth-and-goal after clearly not reaching the goal line on a third-down plunge. Purdue stuffed Daryll Clark on fourth down, but the whistle blew a flicker before the snap, signaling a replay review of the third-down play. The call was upheld and Clark made it in on his second fourth-down try, putting Penn State up 6-0.

The Lions didn't rush up to the line for fourth down, and officials had plenty of time to review the third-down play and stop action before players lined up. Plus, the call was a pretty obvious one. The delayed reaction cost Purdue seven points.

As for the game, Purdue has controlled the clock and showed some spine on defense after a poor performance last week. But the Boilers have nothing to show for their work as kicker Chris Summers has suddenly gone ice cold. Penn State is clearly the better team here, but short-yardage rushing and secondary play could be problems down the road.

Big Ten picks for Week 5

September, 25, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Big Ten play finally arrives for 10 of the 11 teams, and some intriguing opening matchups are on tap Saturday. Last week brought another solid record, but I underestimated the strength of several Big Ten defense. It won't happen this time around.

Not an easy slate of games, and recent history is working against favorites like Penn State (1-7 in its last eight Big Ten openers) and Wisconsin (hasn't won at Michigan since 1994). Here's how I see things shaking out.

Michigan State 30, Indiana 21 -- The Hoosiers allowed Ball State's MiQuale Lewis to rush for 166 yards last week. That's not a good sign as Javon Ringer, the nation's second-leading rusher, comes to Bloomington. Ringer could record his third straight 200-yard rushing performance, but this is an important game for Brian Hoyer to finally get going. The Spartans senior quarterback faces a depleted Indiana secondary. Kellen Lewis makes some plays for the Hoosiers, but Michigan State has the stronger defense.

Ohio State 35, Minnesota 17 -- The return of running back Chris Wells provides the emotional lift Ohio State has lacked the last three games. Wells might not put up huge numbers, but his presence sparks quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the offense. I haven't lost faith in Minnesota, but the timing just isn't right for an upset. And unlike previous Gophers opponents, Ohio State will actually bother to cover star wide receiver Eric Decker with All-America cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.

Iowa 20, Northwestern 17 -- A really tough call here. Iowa hopes it finds a quarterback in sophomore Ricky Stanzi, but Northwestern's defense looks greatly improved and the Hawkeyes' offense really hasn't done much the last two games. The difference comes at the line of scrimmage, where Iowa's defensive front overpowers Northwestern's new-look offensive line and neutralizes Tyrell Sutton. The game could come down to special teams or a fourth-quarter turnover, but Iowa holds on at home.

Wisconsin 27, Michigan 17 -- Like two years ago, the game stays close for the first half, but this time Wisconsin pulls away behind its power run game. Michigan's offense will be improved coming off the bye week and running back Sam McGuffie will force the Badgers to tackle in space. But Wisconsin knows how to grind out victories, and in the fourth quarter the Badgers will control the clock with P.J. Hill and force a mistake or two from Wolverines quarterback Steven Threet. Michigan's streak of 22 consecutive wins in Big Ten home openers comes to an end.

Purdue 27, Notre Dame 24 -- For the second straight season Notre Dame can't run the ball, and the Irish will be forced to stretch the field with young wideouts Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. The plan could work well, but Purdue's secondary has improved and picks off a pass or two. Curtis Painter put up big numbers (398 pass yards) in his last trip to Notre Dame Stadium, and Purdue's offense looks more balanced with running back Kory Sheets. The Boilers win on a last-minute Chris Summers field goal.

Penn State 38, Illinois 24 -- The Lions face adversity for the first time this season, but ultimately their offense is simply too powerful for Illinois. Illini quarterback Juice Williams has proven he can win in tough environments, but unless Arrelious Benn steps up his play, the offense doesn't have enough firepower to keep pace with Penn State. Lions quarterback Daryll Clark makes an early mistake but recovers, and running backs Evan Royster and Stephfon Green wear down the Illini defensive line.

Byes: None

Season record: 35-4

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten is at the quarter pole, and the favorite has fallen back in the pack. After the first truly revealing weekend of the season, let's see what's happening around the league. 

"When we walked in at halftime, nobody was saying anything," tackle Alex Boone said. "I mean, what the [heck], we're Ohio State -- we should be screaming and swearing and saying everything evil you can think of. And guys are hanging their heads, and you don't know what to say to them. You try screaming, and they just put their head down even more. We can't play like that, and if we play like that the rest of the season, we won't be anything."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- When Curtis Painter finishes his college career later this year, his name will be scattered throughout the Purdue and Big Ten record books.

  AP Photo/Tom Strickland
 QB Curtis Painter and the rest of the Boilermakers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to beat a ranked Oregon squad.

But the senior quarterback wanted to add a different sort of number to his résumé on Saturday -- 16. That was the national ranking Oregon had when it took the field at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue hadn't beaten a ranked opponent since upsetting No. 10 Iowa on Nov. 8, 2003. Painter arrived the next fall.

For much of Saturday's game, the Boilermakers' big-game drought looked to be nearing its end. Painter and the offense made some mistakes, but Oregon made just as many and the Boilers' defense kept coming up with big plays.

At times, the Ducks seemed to give the game away, but Purdue never took it and fell 32-26 in two overtimes.

"When we needed to, we made some big plays," Painter said, "and also, when we needed to, we didn't, if that makes any sense."

Making sense of Purdue's recurring big-game bugaboo won't be easy for Painter and his teammates after their latest might-have-been moment. Painter is 0-7 against the Big Ten's traditional top four teams -- Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin -- and could have used a boost against a marquee nonconference opponent.

Of the many missed opportunities Saturday, one stood out in the first overtime. After holding Oregon to a field goal, Purdue reached the 10-yard yard line when referees flagged cornerback Walter Thurmond for pass interference. But the Boilers couldn't deliver the finishing blow, as Painter was sacked and then stopped well short of the goal line on a third-down scramble.

"To be down there and to have that scenario, you ought to be able to capitalize," Painter said. "Unfortunately, that's one drive or possession that we'd like to play over again.

"You'd like to think we can put that in."

Painter completed 26 of 50 passes for 207 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Despite blustery conditions, he said the wind only affected a few throws and wasn't a huge factor.

"He threw it well at times, but other times we did a very poor job managing the game," coach Joe Tiller said.

Tiller went on to reference Painter's interception in the final minute of the first half that led to an Oregon field goal. Painter struggled in the third quarter but rebounded late and led Purdue on a 14-play, 53-yard, clock-eating drive that set up a potential game-winning field-goal attempt that Chris Summers missed wide left.

Fortunately for Painter and Purdue, the big-game chances don't end. The next four games come against MAC champ Central Michigan, rival Notre Dame, No. 17 Penn State and No. 5 Ohio State.

"We played a good team well today," Painter said. "Our team is the type of team that will be mature about this and take the good things out of it. I don't think we're the type of team that's really going to hang our head."

Painter's teammates aren't worried about a carryover effect.

"Curtis has been really good at just putting things aside and focusing on what he has to do next," safety Frank Duong said. "He's been around here long enough, he's played in a lot of big games, so he knows how to move on."

Final: Oregon 32, Purdue 26 (2 OT)

September, 13, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Oregon tried to give this one away, but Purdue couldn't take it.

Backup quarterback Chris Harper, a true freshman, led No. 17 Oregon on the winning drive after Purdue's Chris Summers missed his second field goal. LeGarrette Blount sealed the win with a 2-yard touchdown run. Harper came in after Justin Roper injured his knee in the first overtime.

The Boilermakers' big-game bugaboo continued as they couldn't knock off a ranked team, a streak running since November 2001. And Joe Tiller fell short of becoming the school's all-time winningest coach.

Full disclosure: I was a little bummed about covering this game on a day with so many appetizing matchups. By this point, I expected Oregon to have a win comfortably in hand. But this turned out to be a classic -- and a missed opportunity for the Big Ten.

Going to overtime, 23-23

September, 13, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- With the wind against him, Purdue kicker Chris Summers badly hooked a 44-yard field-goal attempt that would have won the game.

Quarterback Curtis Painter appeared to break his big-game blues by leading the Boilermakers inside Oregon territory. But they got conservative in the final minute and paid the price.

Purdue's defense has played out of its mind so far but needs another stop. Oregon can blame a lack of discipline -- ball-handling, penalties, decisions -- if it falls short today. The Boilers are 3-5 all-time in overtime.

Posted by'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.