Donahue in Disney World

Dec. 9, 2010

UPDATE — Florida senior Chas Henry was named the 2010 Ray Guy Award winner Thursday night.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Not everyone at the Home Depot College Football Awards show is a previous winner or finalist, it just seems that way to Hawkeye senior Ryan Donahue.

Donahue, a 6-3, 190-pound senior from Evergreen Park, IL, is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate punter. The other finalists? Georgia’s Drew Butler, who won the award in 2009, and Florida’s Chas Henry, a 2009 finalist.

“They’re both great,” Donahue said of his fellow punters. “Henry has the best average and net average in the nation and that’s just huge. If you want to help your team that’s the number one way to do it. Drew Butler won this honor last year. He’s a great competitor and comes from a great family of specialists. They’re both great punters and it’s a tough environment to punt in the SEC so it’s an honor to be in the same company as them. “

A winner will be named tonight at the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ESPN television coverage begins at 6 p.m. CT.

“I’m just honored to be one of the finalists,” Donahue said of his chances of winning the award. “Honestly, if I was Chas Henry and I had the best average and net average in the nation I’d be pretty upset if I didn’t win. I’m not really expecting anything.”

Whether he is named the nation’s top punter or not, Donahue’s perspective is centered on sharing the moment with family and respecting the Ray Guy Award for recognizing his skill and those who practice it.

To determine a winner, the voting council considers the athlete’s net punting average, number of times a punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage, and percentage of punts not returned. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline, and have a positive impact on the team’s success.

“I appreciate the Ray Guy Award and all it entails because it really factors in helping your team win field position. Other postseason teams and awards factor in who can punt the ball the farthest. You can punt the ball 50 yards, but if they’re returning it 20 (yards) you’re not really helping your team.”

This weekend, Donahue’s team consists of his fiancé, Amber, his parents, Tim and Claire Donahue, and his brothers Christopher and Kyle.

“My entire family is here, so I’m happy I get to share the experience with them. They’re very happy about it. Everyone is very proud so maybe I can bring some hardware back. We’ll see.

“I’m just looking forward to the whole environment down here. It’s going to be very interesting. I’m going to be out of my element a little bit. Punters don’t often get red carpet treatment so it’s going to be a little bit different.”

Following the awards ceremony, the Hawkeyes’ four-year starting punter will continue preparing for his final collegiate game, a Dec. 28 meeting with Missouri in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.