Originally created 12/06/01

Purdue's Dorsch favored



His hobby is collecting sports memorabilia, and Travis Dorsch will be glad to brief you on the collection - provided you have the time.

The 22-year-old place-kicker and punter used to be a ball boy at San Diego State, so he's got plenty of garb bearing the name and number of former Aztec and current NFL star Marshall Faulk.

Dorsch isn't short of autographed baseballs, and he's managed to collect signatures from seven of the past nine Heisman Trophy winners.

The senior from Purdue could make a considerable addition to his stash tonight at the ESPN College Football Awards Show in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Dorsch is a finalist for three awards and a favorite for one - the second annual Ray Guy award, which is sponsored by the Greater Augusta Sports Council.

Miami's Freddie Capshaw and Oklahoma's Jeff Ferguson are the two other finalists for the award that recognizes Guy, a Thomson native widely considered to be one of the best punters in the game's history.

Dorsch is also one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award (best field-goal kicker), and one of 10 finalists for the Mosi Tatupu Award (best special teams player).

"My goal coming into the season was just to get invited to this show and be recognized as one of the best in the country," Dorsch, who leads the nation in punting average with 48.86 yards per kick, said Wednesday by phone from Orlando, Fla. "To win any of the awards would be icing on the cake."

It would put a sweet finishing touch on a career that was turning sour almost two years ago, when Purdue squandered a 25-0 lead to Georgia in the 2000 Outback Bowl and suffered a 28-25 overtime loss.

Fans viewed Dorsch, who missed three field goals and an extra point in the defeat, as the culprit. He spent more time than he cares to remember as the target of boos, hate mail, even a few death threats.

"It's been kind of interesting," said Dorsch, who also pitches and plays first base for the Boilermakers' baseball team. "There was a point in time at Purdue when I wasn't everybody's best friend."

Little has gone wrong for Dorsch since the Outback debacle, as the 6-foot-6, 211-pounder became the school's all-time field-goal leader with 66. He has made 20 of 25 field goals this season and has kicked 49 punts for 370 yards.

Earlier this week, Dorsch became the first player in Big Ten history to be named first-team all-conference as a kicker and punter.

His ascent also has made him something of a celebrity. An Internet fan page is dedicated to chronicling his feats, but the man they call "TD" said the struggles of the past make it easy to stay grounded in the present.

"Everybody has been real supportive," Dorsch said. "But as an athlete, you just want to play for yourself and your team."

And your memorabilia collection.

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.