West Palm Beach, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Sports Commission has released the 20 semifinalists for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl. These twenty kickers have all excelled throughout the season in earning their places as semifinalists.
While last year’s winner Roberto Aguayo makes the list in his bid to become just the second repeat winner, the sophomore from Florida State is one of only six returning semifinalists. Maryland junior Brad Craddock, Arizona State sophomore Zane Gonzalez, and Utah sophomore Andy Phillips join Aguayo in repeating last year’s semifinalist honors, while Duke junior Ross Martin and TCU junior Jaden Oberkrom return after earning semifinalist nods in 2012.
Craddock and Martin are the only FBS kickers with at least ten field goals who have yet to miss a kick of any kind, while Oberkrom leads the country in kick-scoring per game with 11.3 points per contest. But it’s two new names who top the national leaderboard in field goals. West Virginia sophomore Josh Lambert and Ball State senior Scott Secor have already booted 21 field goals, three more than the next kicker, Oklahoma State sophomore and new semifinalist Ben Grogan. While Secor has the edge in field goals per game, leading the nation with 2.63, Lambert is the nation’s top long-distance kicker, going 4-for-4 on kicks from over 50 yards.
All ten FBS kickers who have hit double-digit field goals at a rate of at least 85% are on the list: Craddock (100), Martin (100), Aguayo (93.3), Air Force senior Will Conant (92.9), Cincinnati freshman Andrew Gantz (90.9), Penn State senior Sam Ficken (89.5), Houston junior Kyle Bullard (86.7), Syracuse freshman Cole Murphy (85.7), Virginia junior Ian Frye (85.0), and Phillips (85.0).
Lambert and Phillips are the only FBS kickers to rack up more than ten field goals just on kicks from at least 40 yards out, hitting 12 and 11 respectively. Craddock is third in the country with 9, followed by four kickers tied at 6 apiece, all of whom make the list: Bullard, Ficken, Secor and Louisville junior John Wallace.
Semifinalists will be voted on by FBS Head Coaches and SIDs, past Groza finalists, and national and regional football writers to select the three finalists. These finalists will be announced on November 24th and honored at the 23rd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on December 9th in West Palm Beach, Florida. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Thursday, December 11th.
The award is named in honor of one of the all-time great kickers in football history, Lou Groza. Groza played 21 seasons for the Cleveland Browns setting numerous franchise records, including most games played, most points scored, and an amazing 107 consecutive games in which he scored a point. Groza was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Since the first Lou Groza Award was handed out in 1992, 20 finalists, including 11 winners, have gone on to appear in the NFL, earning eight trips to the Pro Bowl and taking home five Super Bowls. That list includes current NFL kickers Dan Bailey, Randy Bullock, Mason Crosby, Kai Forbath, Graham Gano, Sebastian Janikowski, Mike Nugent, Cairo Santos, Caleb Sturgis, and Blair Walsh.
Press Release Courtesy of lougrozaaward.com
feature photo courtesy of BlueGoldSports.com