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Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston on watch list for Ray Guy Award

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OSU junior punter Cameron Johnston (95) stands on the sideline during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Virginia. OSU won, 42-24. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

OSU junior punter Cameron Johnston (95) stands on the sideline during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Virginia. OSU won, 42-24. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Lantern photographer

Cameron Johnston, a senior punter on the Ohio State football team, has been named to the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top punter.

Johnston, one of 28 collegiate punters on the watch list that was released Thursday, was a semifinalist for the award during the past two seasons. Since the award’s inception in 2000, the only Buckeye to take home the hardware was B.J. Sander in 2003.

Johnston is one of the most decorated punters in program history, with three school records to his name. He set the single-season record in 2015 for most punts inside the 20-yard line, with 31. En route to that total, he set a new career mark, with 83. His average of 57.0 yards per attempt in a 2014 game against Illinois is also a school record.

A native of Geelong, Australia, Johnston’s ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory has been invaluable to coach Urban Meyer’s teams over the past two seasons. With the loss of 14 starters total from last year’s roster, having Johnston back to lead the special-teams unit should be an asset.

In all, five Buckeyes are on preseason lists, including redshirt senior Pat Elflein, who was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list on Wednesday. The award honors the nation’s top collegiate center.

It’s the first time Elflein has been included on the trophy’s watch list, but that’s because this will be his first season as OSU’s center. He has started the past two seasons at guard, where he helped turn the Buckeyes’ front five into one of the most respected units in the country.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Elflein, who has twice been a first-team all-conference guard, shocked many with his decision to return for a fifth season. But his decision to stick around will likely pay dividends for an OSU offense that lost seven starters from a season ago, including three on the offensive line.

Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett is on the Maxwell Award watch list, handed out to the nation’s top player, regardless of position. Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan and redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis are on the Bednarik Award watch list, given annually to the country’s top defender.

OSU is set to open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at Ohio Stadium.

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