Durant Brooks may not be from Thomson or Warrenton, but the local area certainly has a link to claim him as its own.
LuAnne Durant, mother of the Georgia Tech punter, lives in Warrenton and works in Thomson. She said she and her son have been fox hunting at Belle Meade together since he was seven years old.
Now leading the nation with a net punting average of 40.9 yards, Brooks was named as a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's top college punter.
"Oh my gosh. It's unbelievable," Ms. Durant said of her son's award nomination. "...In my opinion it was great to be in the final 10, but in the final three. No matter if he wins or not, to me that's just super."
Brooks, Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda or Penn State's Jeremy Kapinos will win the award on Dec. 7. The Ray Guy Award is presented annually by the Greater Augusta Sports Council. Winning would be "incredible," said Brooks, who played his high school football at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon.
"For my first year up here ... so unbelievable," said Brooks, who transferred to Georgia Tech from Georgia Military College last fall. "I'm just trying to keep doing what I'm doing and help my team out."
Brooks has honed his kicking game under the tutelage of a few local legends, including Ray Guy and Chris Mohr.
Brooks participated in a Ray Guy Kicking Academy during high school and was included on the academy's talent search video. Ms. Durant said that's how Georgia Tech initially became interested in him.
"They don't recruit punters much, but Ole Miss had talked to him and Missisippi State and Tennessee, you know, different schools. But he just wanted to go to Tech and hung in there and did it," she said.
The Georgia Tech Junior has punted 70 times so far this season for 3,162 yards, an average of 45.2 per punt. His longest punt was 63 yards, and 23 of them traveled 50 yards or more. He has eight punts for touchbacks, and 33 were downed inside the 20.
He was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week twice this season, and named to the All ACC First Team this week. All the stats and accolades point to a future career as a professional punter, but Ms. Durant won't hear of it just yet.
"People are saying it, but I don't even talk about it. I want him to get his education," she said.
Morris News Service reports were used in this article.