Grant Traylor: Williams prophetic of Ray Guy nomination
On Friday, Marshall University football player Tyler Williams was announced as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's best punter.
It came as a surprise to many people that the Marshall freshman burst onto the scene so quickly.
To Williams, it was not a surprise, though. In fact, his nomination as a semifinalist proved Williams is not only a solid punter, he's also prophetic.
"I got here last January and I was talking to one of our GAs (graduate assistants) Aaron (Hill)," Williams said. "It was like the third day here and I was getting into classes and getting everything going. We were joking around and he asked me about my goals.
"I told him, 'My goal is to win the Ray Guy this year. I'm going to win the Ray Guy.' I was joking around, and he was like we'll see. He was obviously a lot more surprised (Friday)."
Williams is eighth in the nation, averaging 45.51 yards per punt on 37 punts this season.
It is a statistic that he's extremely proud of, given that it's his first year and the amount of uncertainty surrounding the punt game heading into the season.
"Going into camp, everyone was a bit skeptical about our punt team and what-not," Williams said. "Coming out this season and doing what we have, I'm impressed with myself and I'm impressed with my teammates."
He said the biggest sense of pride about the award is that is more symbolic about his teammates than it is about him.
"The Ray Guy isn't just great for me. It's great for our punt team," Williams said. "That's great showing how well we work and how much time we put in on punt team."
Despite the team being recognized for the efforts, Williams is certainly not satisfied -- especially after his unit gave up a 79-yard touchdown return in the first quarter and had another punt blocked in the loss to UAB on Saturday.
"The mistakes that happened this week are going to be fixed," Williams said. "They have to be fixed for this week against Houston."
SPEAKING OF PUNTING: This week's matchup will feature a battle of two of the top punters in the nation when Williams meets up with Houston's Richie Leone.
Leone is just ahead of Williams nationally, sitting in seventh across all of FBS by averaging 45.71 yards per punt.
CATO LEADS NATION: Despite throwing for a season-low 216 yards against UAB on Saturday, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato still leads the nation with 3,506 passing yards this season.
His 343 completions also lead the nation and set the Marshall single-season record for completions, passing Tony Petersen's mark of 340 in 1987.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).