Beat writer Bob Asmussen sizes up the Illinois special teams ahead of the 2020 season that kicks off Friday night against No. 16 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.
Blake Hayes, punter
The returning Big Ten Punter of the Year is among the leading candidates for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation’s best player at the position.
Hayes led the Big Ten in punting average last season, edging Ohio State’s Drue Chrisman and Michigan’s Will Hart.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Australian has a strong leg, but is also valued for his accuracy. His ability to pin opponents deep is considered a huge asset for Lovie Smith’s defense.
Hayes learned many of his skills in his native country, long before he considered trying American football.
At his current pace, Hayes will break Steve Weatherford’s school record for career average.
Hayes is considered the top…