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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Tyler Davis (St. Charles, Ill.) and Sophomore Blake Gillikin (Smyrna, Ga.) joined the pack of Nittany Lions on preseason watch lists with berths on the Lou Groza Award and Ray Guy Award charts, respectively. The Lou Groza Award is awarded to the nation's top kicker, while the Ray Guy Award is given annually to the nation's top punter.
The Augusta Sports Council created the Ray Guy Award in 2000 to honor Thomson, Georgia native and College and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Ray Guy. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline and have a positive impact on the team's success.
Davis and Gillikin are the seventh and eighth different Nittany Lion on a preseason watch list. Junior running back Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) and junior quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) were named to the Maxwell Award watch list for the National Player of the Year, senior safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and senior linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J.) are nominees for the Bednarik Award for the National Defensive Player of the Year, senior tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.), who is on the John Mackey Award list for nation's top tight end and senior linebacker Brandon Smith (Winfield, Pa.) is among the nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works team.
Davis earned the 2016 Vlade Award for the nation's most accurate kicker from the Touchdown Club of Columbus to go along with first-team All-Big Ten accolades from the conference coaches and second team accolades from the media. He was a semifinalist for the Groza award last season. Davis tied the Penn State single-season record with 62 converted extra points attempts, equaling Brett Conway's mark from 1994 and tied for No. 2 on Penn State's single-season field goals made charts (22), trailing only Sam Ficken's 24 makes from 2014. Davis finished No. 5 on the PSU single-season scoring charts (128 points) and also tied the Big Ten single-season kick scoring record with 128 points, equaling the mark set by Ohio State's Sean Nuernberger in 2014. For his career, Davis ranks No. 12 on Penn State's career field goals made charts with 30. He also broke the school record for consecutive field goals made with 18, topping Sam Ficken's mark of 15 straight makes between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The 18-straight made field goals were tied for the longest streak in the Big Ten since Brad Craddock (UMD) converted 24-straight in from 2013-14 and are tied for fourth in Big Ten history. Davis led the Big Ten and was eighth nationally with a .917 field goal percentage and ws second in the conference and 11th nationally in total points (128). Davis had the third-most extra point makes among kickers with a perfect percentage in FBS in 2016.
Gillikin was selected to ESPN.com's True Freshman All-America team and was an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection by the conference's coaches and media after a stellar rookie campaign. He broke the Penn State freshman season punting average record with 42.8 yards per punt, surpassing the record set by Jeremy Kapinos in 2003 (41.9). His effort also ranks No. 7 on Penn State's single-season chart. Gillkin finished the season 30th in FBS and third in the Big Ten in punting average. In addition, Gillikin set the Penn State freshman record for punting average in a game with five kicks for an average of 50.8 yards in the Rose Bowl against USC. He was also stellar in the classroom, posting perfect 4.0 grade point averages in both semesters and claimed the President's Freshman Award, which recognizes Penn State students for academic excellence.
The Nittany Lions' home schedule features a trio of non-conference games, including Pitt's first visit to Beaver Stadium since 1999. The Nittany Lions open the season against Akron (Sept. 2; noon) and face Pitt (Sept. 9; 3:30 p.m.) and Georgia State (Sept. 16) to close out a three-game homestand to start the year. In Big Ten play, Penn State welcomes Indiana (Sept. 30), Michigan (Oct. 21), Rutgers (Nov. 11; noon - Homecoming) and Nebraska (Nov. 18) to Happy Valley.
Nearly 8,700 new season tickets have been sold for the 2017 campaign. The public single-game ticket sale opens Tuesday, July 11. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2017 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m.