College Sports

Former O’Fallon Panther in running for major college football award

O’Fallon High graduate and Eastern Michigan junior punter Austin Barnes has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2016 Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top college punter.

The list of semifinalists was compiled by a national panel of sportswriters, coaches and sports information directors.

Barnes’ 45.1-yard punting average ranks 12th in the nation. He has 18 punts of 50 or more yards this season, including a season-long 61-yarder. Of Barnes’ 50 punts, 23 have been downed inside the 20-yard line with only four reaching the end zone for a touchback.

Barnes’ 43-yard career punting average ranked second in Eastern Michigan history and his 54 punts down inside the 20 are tied for third all-time.

The Ray Guy Award national panel will choose three finalists on Nov. 22, then will vote for the winner. The 2016 winner will be announced live Dec. 8 on ESPN during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

Eastern Michigan (6-3 overall, 3-3 in the Mid-America Conference are bowl eligible for the first time since 1995. They play host to Northern Illinois (3-7) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Rynearson Stadium. The Eagles are trying for their first seven-win season since 1989.

Another O’Fallon High graduate, junior quarterback Todd Porter, has completed 87-of-142 passes for Eastern Michigan this season for 1,064 yards and seven touchdowns with nine interceptions.

Porter, who missed several games with a shoulder injury, has not played since Oct. 1 against Bowling Green while junior Brogan Roback has taken over the starter’s spot.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders