With three first-time finalists in the fold, the Ray Guy Award gained some international flair Thursday night.
Memphis’ Tom Hornsey received the award as college football’s top punter during The Home Depot College Football Awards Show, broadcast on ESPN from Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“I’m honored to receive the award,” Hornsey said. “To have my name next to Ray Guy is unbelievable. I’m excited. I can’t believe it.”
Hornsey, from Geelong, Australia, was a four-year starter at Memphis, averaging 45 yards per punt over 62 attempts in 2013. He booted 29 punts inside the 20-yard line and 11 inside the 10-yard line, and recorded 18 punts of more than 50 yards. He had a long of 79 yards, and opponents returned just 19 of his punts for a 31 percent rate.
The 79-yard punt against Duke was the nation’s second-longest in 2013 and second-longest in Memphis history.
Hornsey attended St. Joseph’s College and played Australian Rules Football and tennis as a prep athlete. He came to Memphis and became the starting punter right away, ranking fourth in Conference USA and 34th nationally in punting average as a freshman.
“The goal was to become an American punter,” he said. “I worked on technique and made a video. Memphis was one of teams interested. They sent me over there and I accepted.”
Hornsey was the primary punter all four years of his college career, which culminated as a two-time Ray Guy Award Player of the Week and Ray Guy Award winner in his senior year. He said there were cultural differences leaving his home country, but teammates made the transition easy.
“The players at Memphis embraced me,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been a fantastic journey.”
Hornsey beat Texas A&M’s Drew Kaser and Purdue’s Cody Webster for the award.
The Ray Guy Award was created by the Augusta Sports Council in 2000 to honor the Thomson native and College Football Hall of Fame inductee.
The winner is determined by a national voting body of sports writers, college coaches, sports information directors and past winners.