Valparaiso's Matthes, Butler's Zurak named to FCS Punter of the Year Watch List

Wednesday, August 2, 2023
by Cody Bush, PFL Media Relations

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Pioneer Football League punters Evan Matthes of Valparaiso and Luka Zurak of Butler were among 17 candidates named by The Augusta Sports Council to its 2023 FCS Punter of the Year Award Watch List. The award honors the FCS’ top collegiate punter.

The 17 candidates on the list incorporate a broad spectrum of Football Championship Series (FCS) punters. The 2023 Watch List was compiled based on the 2022 FCS Punter of the Year Watch List and 2022 all-conference and All-America teams.

Zurak is the reigning PFL Special Teams Player of the Year after earning First Team All-PFL recognition as a punter and placekicker. He averaged 41.8 yards on 37 punts to lead the league while also booting a league-best 67-yard punt – one of his seven punts of 50-plus yards. Matthes, the Second Team All-PFL punter, averaged 41.4 yards on his 57 punts and had 10 punts of 50-plus yards, including a 67-yarder to match Zurak for longest punt of the 2022 season.

The FCS Punter of the Year Award winner will be voted on by the FCS Punter of the Year Award/Ray Guy Award Committee and announced after regular season play.

2023 Preseason Watchlist

  • Aaron Trusler, Richmond
  • Austin Dunlap, Southeastern Louisiana
  • Bradley Porcellato, Samford
  • Evan Matthes, Valparaiso
  • Grant Burkett, Missouri State
  • Jack Culbreath, VMI
  • Josh Sanchez, Arkansas Pine Bluff
  • Kaedin Steindorf, North Dakota State
  • Luka Zurak, Butler
  • Matt Noll, Jackson State
  • Patrick Haughney, Holy Cross
  • Ryan Kost, Delaware
  • Shelby Pruett, Colgate
  • Trey Wilhoit, FAMU
  • Tyler Pastula, University at Albany
  • Will Lynch, LIU
  • Will Whitehurst, William & Mary

About the Pioneer Football League

The Pioneer Football League is the only non-scholarship, football-only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision conference. The PFL is a truly national conference with members on each coast and throughout the nation’s heartland. Butler University, the University of Dayton, Drake University, and Valparaiso University were among the league’s founding members in 1993, with Davidson College, Marist College, Morehead State University, Presbyterian College, the University of San Diego, the University of St. Thomas, and Stetson University joining to form the current 11-team league.

About the FCS Punter of the Year Award

The Augusta Sports Council, also home to the Ray Guy Award (awarded to the best collegiate punter in the FBS), created the FCS Punter of the Year Award in 2019 to honor the best collegiate punter playing in the FCS. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times 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 with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline and positively impact the team's success.