More than two weeks ago, junior punter and kickoff specialist Braden Mann was named a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given each year to the nation’s best punter in college football.
On Thursday, Mann became the first Texas A&M player to win the award and the first SEC player to hold the title since Florida’s Chas Henry in 2010.
“I’ve been absolutely blessed by God this year and he’s just put me in a great position,” Mann said after being presented the award. “I’ve been trying to take full advantage of those blessings. He’s given he great family, great coaching staff, great teammates, a great punt coverage unit.”
In his junior season alone, Mann has broken two NCAA records and leads the nation with a punting average 51.15 yards. He broke his first record after A&M’s Sept. 1 visit to No. 1 Alabama where Mann broke the original 60.4 yard NCAA high gross punt average in a single game, with his own 60.8 yards on five punts.
The second record-breaking game for Mann came against University of Alabama-Birmingham on Nov. 17 when he secured his 14th 60-yard punt of the season and surpassed Wake Forest’s Ryan Plackemeier record for most 60-yard punts in one season.
Mann said his success on the field comes from his ability to focus on one spot and let the ball settle in that area.
“I’m just one of those guys that likes to let it eat,” Mann said. “So coach Fisher just tells me to go out and let it eat, that’s what I try to do, just let it eat. I try to bring the juice to every game.”
As the first player from A&M to win, Mann said he’s excited to return to College Station and continue to represent the many A&M punters before him.
“I'm happy to finally bring the Ray Guy Trophy back to College Station for the first time after following in the footsteps of great punters before me like Shanµe Lechler, Drew Kaser and Shane Tripucka. It has been an honor to be in the conversation with punters like them and so many others. I really want to thank the 12th Man for giving me a lot of juice in games this season,” Mann told 12thman.com.
Mann will have the chance to break the NCAA team record for averaging 45.0 yards or more per punt in a single season when the Aggies take on North Carolina State in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. on Dec. 31 at 6:30 p.m.