Palm Beach County Sports Commission Presents

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award

Palm Beach Sports

 

During the past 20 years, many things have helped mold college football into the game that it is today. Near the top of that list is the increased importance of the kicking game.

It used to be that place-kickers were local, non-scholarship athletes who made good. Now, top high school and prep kickers are as highly recruited as some quarterbacks and wide receivers.

With national championships often won or lost on one swing of the leg, the importance of having a top kicker cannot be understated.

The Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award annually recognizes college football’s top place-kicker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch List

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award

Announces 2018 Preseason Watch List

 

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Looking to become just the second repeat winner in history, Utah senior Matt Gay headlines the thirty-player Watch List for the 2018 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Gay won the 2017 Groza with 30 field goals, just the fourth time a kicker has reached the total in FBS history. If he defends his title, he would join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998 & 1999) as the only players to win multiple Grozas. He is joined on the Watch List by Utah State junior Dominik Eberle, who was a finalist for the award, as well as 14 other past semifinalists.

Among the players on the Watch List are all nine returning FBS kickers who made at least 19 field goals last season: Gay (30), Toledo senior Jameson Vest (25), Oklahoma State junior Matt Ammendola (23), Stanford junior Jet Toner (21), Georgia junior Rodrigo Blankenship (20), Baylor junior Connor Martin (20), UTSA sophomore Jared Sackett (19), Michigan junior Quinn Nordin (19), and Arizona State sophomore Brandon Ruiz (19).

Among returning kickers who attempted double-digit field goals, only 10 connected at a rate of at least 85%, and all of them found their way to the Watch List: Wisconsin senior Rafael Gaglianone (88.9), Gay (88.2), Missouri junior Tucker McCann (88.2), Blankenship (87.0), Sackett (86.4), Florida State junior Ricky Aguayo (85.7), Texas A&M senior Daniel LaCamera (85.7), Mississippi State sophomore Jace Christmann (85.7), Louisville junior Blanton Creque (85.0), and Southern Miss senior Parker Shaunfield (85.0).

Combining accuracy and distance, the Watch List also encompasses the only 14 returning kickers who made more than 10 field goals from at least 30 yards out while still connecting at a 75% clip: Gay (18, 88.2), Ammendola (15, 79.3), Colorado sophomore James Stefanou (15, 77.3), Toner (14, 80.8), Aguayo (13, 85.7), Creque (13, 85.0), Martin (13, 83.3), Vest (13, 83.3), Nordin (13, 79.2), Blankenship (12, 87.0), Ohio junior Louie Zervos (12, 83.3), Georgia Southern junior Tyler Bass (12, 78.9), UCLA junior JJ Molson (11, 81.0), and Oklahoma senior Austin Seibert (11, 81.0).

While the Watch List highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, Gay, who hadn’t kicked before last season and was not on the 2017 Watch List, stands as proof that the Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature on www.lougrozaaward.com. All FBS kickers remain eligible to be selected as semifinalists.

Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Thursday, November 1st. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers selects the top three finalists for the award by Tuesday, November 20th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 6th during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

The 27th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl, recognizes the three finalists during a celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on December 3rd.

The Award is named for National Football League Hall of Fame kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland, and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Although an All-Pro offensive lineman as well, Groza ushered in the notion that there should be a place on an NFL roster for a kicker.

For more information on the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award and to see the “Stars of the Week” throughout the season, please go to www.lougrozaaward.com. For even more updates on the best kicking performances throughout the season, follow @LouGrozaAward on Twitter.

 

National College Football Awards Association

The Lou Groza Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 24 awards boast over 722 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit www.NCFAA.org to learn more about our story.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 12-day period this month. Seventeen of the association’s 24 awards select a preseason watch list, and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates.

 

Following is the complete 2018 preseason watch list calendar:

 

Mon., July 16:         Bednarik Award / Maxwell Award

Tues., July 17:         Davey O’Brien Award

Weds., July 18:        Doak Walker Award

Thurs., July 19:        Biletnikoff Award

Fri., July 20:             John Mackey Award / Rimington Trophy

Mon., July 23:         Butkus Award / Paycom Jim Thorpe Award

Tues., July 24:         Bronko Nagurski Trophy / Outland Trophy

Weds., July 25:        Lou Groza Award / Ray Guy Award

Thurs., July 26:        Paul Hornung Award / Wuerffel Trophy

Fri., July 27:             Walter Camp Award

 

About the Palm Beach County Sports Commission

The Palm Beach County Sports Commission is a private, not-for-profit organization contracted by Palm Beach County to promote and market the County as a sports and sports tourism destination. The Commission brings sporting events and activities to the County, enhances economic impact, stimulates bed tax revenues (primarily in the off-season), and maximizes utilization of County facilities. The Commission offers a full range of event service support, corporate partnerships, sponsorships and a local membership program that support its goals. Local, regional, national and international marketing efforts are ongoing by the Commission with sports organizations and event owners. The Commission also produces sports-related programs for the residents of Palm Beach County including the annual Lou Groza Award program, the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame and the Kids Fitness Festival of the Palm Beaches. For more information on the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, go to www.palmbeachsports.com.

 

Who is your favorite "Watch List" Kicker?
 
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Ricky Aguayo – Florida State
Class: Junior - Hometown: Mascotte, Florida1
 

FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
18 21 85.7 0-0 5-5 11-13 1-2 1-1 51 42 44 96


Aguayo led the ACC in accuracy, making 18 of his 21 field goal attempts. Among kickers returning this season, only five in FBS connected at a better rate. When FSU returned to play following Hurricane Irma, Aguayo posted back-to-back 4-FG games, scoring more than half of the Seminoles’ points, including a 14-point effort in their 26-19 win over Wake Forest.

 
Matt Ammendola – Oklahoma State
Class: Junior - Hometown: Lansdale, Pennsylvania
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
23 29 79.3 1-2 7-9 9-10 5-7 1-1 53 70 70 139
 
Ammendola’s 139 points were the most scored by any kicker in FBS last season, and ranked 4th among players at any position. His 23 field goals are the third-most by a returning kicker. He made a FG in every game last year, including 3-for-3 performances in both the regular season finale and the Camping World Bowl to finish the year with 11 straight makes.
 
John Baron II – San Diego State
Class: Senior - Hometown: Temecula, California
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
12 15 80.0 0-0 4-4 7-8 1-2 0-1 43 52 52 88
 
 
A Groza semifinalist in 2016, Baron has been one of the nation’s most dependable kickers. His 86.8% career accuracy mark is the best among returning FBS kickers with more than one season, and his 207 career points rank 13th among active kickers.
 

Tyler Bass – Georgia Southern
Class: Junior - Hometown: Irmo, South Carolina
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
 15 19 78.9 0-0 3-3 3-5 9-11 0-0 48 27 28 72
 
Only two returning FBS kickers made nine field goals from at least 40 yards out last season: Groza Award winner Matt Gay, and Tyler Bass. His nine makes from 40-49 yards tied for most in the nation, and they were spread across nine different games, including one in each of Georgia Southern’s final eight contests.

Rodrigo Blankenship – Georgia
Class: Junior - Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
20 23 87.0 0-0 8-8 6-6 4-7 2-2 55 63 63 123
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Blankenship didn’t even get an attempt at a 50-yard field goal in the regular season, but during Georgia’s playoff run, he connected on two of the year’s most memorable long-distance kicks. His 55 yarder set a new Rose Bowl record in the semifinal, while his 51-yard kick put the Bulldogs on the board in overtime of the National Championship Game.

Jose Borregales – FIU
Class: Sophomore - Hometown: Miami, Florida
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
15 18 83.3 0-0 7-7 6-6 2-4 0-1 44 40 40 85

 
No team in the country was more effective at scoring in the red zone last year than FIU, and Borregales did his part by connecting all 10 times the Panthers called on him to finish such a drive. His 83.3% accuracy rate was second-best among FBS freshmen who attempted at least 15 field goals.  

Wyatt Bryan – Colorado State
Class: Senior - Hometown: Larkspur, Colorado
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
15 18 83.3 1-1 6-6 3-5 3-4 2-2 52 53 55 98
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Bryan enters the year just ten field goals away from the Colorado State career record, while being tied as the Rams’ most accurate career kicker as well. His 275 career points are tied for second on Colorado State’s all-time scoring list and tie for fourth among active FBS kickers.

Emmit Carpenter – Minnesota
Class: Senior - Hometown: Green Bay, Wisconsin
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
14 20 70.0 0-0 5-5 4-6 5-8 0-1 49 31 31 73
 
A Groza semifinalist in 2016, when he was also named the Big Ten’s Kicker of the Year, Carpenter continued to perform well for the Gophers last season. His 81.8% career accuracy rate is the best in Minnesota history, and ranks second among active kickers with at least 35 field goals. 

Jace Christmann – Mississippi State
Class: Sophomore - Hometown: Houston, Texas
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
12 14 85.7 0-0 6-6 3-3 3-5 0-0 45 42 42 78
 
Christmann walked on to the team and quickly established himself in impressive fashion, going 3-for-3 on his first career attempts in the Bulldogs’ 37-7 upset of conference rival LSU. He would stay perfect into late November, putting together the nation’s second-most accurate season by a freshman with at least 10 attempts last year. 

Bryce Crawford – San Jose State
Class: Senior - Hometown: Frisco, Texas
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
14 17 82.4 0-0 5-5 2-2 2-2 5-8 53 20 24 62
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Crawford joined Groza Award winner Matt Gay as the only kickers in FBS to make five field goals from at least 50 yards out. Because of his strong leg, he attempted eight kicks from long distance, easily the most in the nation, and the only blemish on his season as he was perfect on kicks from less than 50 yards.  

Blanton Creque – Louisville
Class: Junior - Hometown: Shelbyville, Kentucky
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 20 85.0 1-1 3-3 9-11 4-5 0-0 48 58 59 109
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Creque bookended the regular season with 3-for-3 performances against Purdue and Kentucky, both on the road. That kind of consistency has been a hallmark of his two seasons at Louisville, with a career 84.6% accuracy rate that is best in school history, and ranks second among active kickers with at least 30 field goals.

Dominik Eberle – Utah State
Class: Junior - Hometown: Nuremberg, Germany
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
18 24 75.0 0-0 8-9 5-6 4-8 1-1 52 47 47 101
 
A 2017 Groza finalist, Eberle finished the regular season 16-for-18 on field goals, the nation’s fifth-best rate at the time and best by any kicker with a make as long as his 52 yarder. That kick came as part of a 4-for-4 FG, 7-for-7 XP performance against San Jose State, the 19 points tying for the highest scoring game by an FBS kicker last season.

Rafael Gaglianone – Wisconsin
Class: Senior - Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
16 18 88.9 0-0 7-7 5-7 3-3 1-1 52 59 59 107
 
Gaglianone enters 2018 as the FBS active leader in career field with 60, and ranks second in points with 348. He needs just 6 field goals and 37 points to become Wisconsin’s all-time leader in field goals and kick-scoring. His 88.9% accuracy rate last season was the best by any kicker with double-digit attempts who returns to FBS this year.

Matt Gay – Utah
Class: Senior - Hometown: Orem, Utah
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
30 34 88.2 0-0 12-12 9-10 4-6 5-6 56 40 40 130

 
The 2017 Groza Award winner, Gay’s became just the fourth kicker in FBS history to kick 30 field goals in a season, and with the best percentage among that group. He led the nation in made field goals, tied for the FBS lead with 5 kicks from at least 50 yards out – including a 56 yarder that tied for second-longest in FBS – and made 18 FGs from at least 30 yards, easily the most by any kicker returning this season.

Greg Huegel – Clemson
Class: Senior - Hometown: Blythewood, South Carolina
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
2 4 50.0 0-0 0-0 1-1 1-3 0-0 49 14 15 20
 
A Groza semifinalist in 2016, Huegel suffered a torn ACL after three games last season, but if he can recover and return to form, he’ll bring Clemson one of the nation’s best resumes. Even with the injury-shortened season, he ranks 5th among active kickers in career field goals and sixth in points scored. 

Daniel LaCamera – Texas A&M
Class: Senior - Hometown: Tarpon Springs, Florida
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
18 21 85.7 3-3 6-6 4-4 4-5 1-3 52 51 52 105

 
A 2016 Groza semifinalist, LaCamera is the first kicker in Texas A&M history to score 100 points in back-to-back seasons. He came through in big spots on the road, going 4-for-4 on FGs and scoring the final 9 points in a 19-17 comeback win over Florida, as well as 14-point game - including a last-second FG to send it to overtime – in a 50-43 win at Arkansas.

Connor Martin – Baylor
Class: Junior - Hometown: Frisco, Texas
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
20 24 83.3 0-0 7-7 7-10 6-7 0-0 48 30 31 90
 
In his first season as Baylor’s starting kicker, Martin went straight to the top of the record books, becoming the first Bears’ kicker to make 20 field goals in a single season. His 4 FGs against Oklahoma tied the school mark for most in a single game. Among all kickers returning to FBS this season, only two made at least 20 field goals at a better rate than his 83.3%

Tucker McCann – Missouri
Class: Junior - Hometown: O’Fallon, Illinois
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
15 17 88.2 1-1 6-7 4-5 4-4 0-0 43 51 53 96
 
Among returning kickers who attempted double-digit field goals last season, McCann’s 88.2% accuracy rate is tied with Groza winner Matt Gay for second-highest in the country. He enters this season having made his last 13 attempts, including a game-winner in the regular season finale, a 48-45 road win over Arkansas.

JJ Molson – UCLA
Class: Junior - Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 21 81.0 0-0 6-7 7-8 4-6 0-0 45 49 50 100
 
With 5 points in the Cactus Bowl, Molson became just the 18th player in UCLA history to score 100 points in a single season. He earned the opportunity as well, kicking a 37-yard game-winner with four seconds left to give the Bruins a 30-27 victory over California and become bowl-eligible. 

Quinn Nordin – Michigan
Class: Junior - Hometown: Rockford, Michigan
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
19 24 79.2 0-0 6-6 7-10 4-5 2-3 55 35 38 92
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Nordin exploded onto the scene in his first season, becoming the first Michigan kicker to make two 50-yard FGs in a game during his 4-FG debut against Florida. In his third game, he matched the school record with a 5-for-5 game against Air Force. He closed strong as well, going 4-for-4 against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, making him the only FBS kicker last year with three games of at least 4 field goals.

Evan Pantels – UNLV
Class: Senior - Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 22 77.3 0-0 7-7 4-4 5-9 1-2 53 28 28 79
 
Though his season stats look right in line with most kickers, Pantels actually suffered an injury in the season’s third game that limited him to partial or no action in 7 games. That’s how productive he was in those games in which he was healthy. In each of his 5 other games, he kicked at least 3 field goals; only Groza winner Matt Gay had more games with 3+ makes.

Brandon Ruiz – Arizona State
Class: Sophomore - Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
19 27 70.4 0-0 7-7 5-5 5-10 2-5 52 49 50 106

 
A true freshman, Ruiz become the first kicker in Arizona State history to make his first career FG from long distance, connecting on a 52 yarder in the opener. His 19 field goals tied for the most by a freshman last year. He went 3-for-3 with a game-winner to beat Oregon 37-35, and scored more than half the points – including another 52-yard FG – in ASU’s 13-7 upset over then-#5 Washington.

Jared Sackett – UTSA
Class: Sophomore - Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
19 22 86.4 2-2 10-11 2-2 5-7 0-0 44 23 24 80
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Sackett tied for the most field goals by a freshman last season, and only three kickers of any class were more accurate on at least 20 attempts. His 19 FGs set a new UTSA single-season record. He kicked a last-second game-winner to cap a 3-for-3 game in which he scored every point in a 9-7 win over Marshall.

Austin Seibert – Oklahoma
Class: Senior - Hometown: Belleville, Illinois
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 21 81.0 1-1 5-6 7-8 3-5 1-1 51 81 81 132
 
Seibert enters the year as the leading career scorer among active FBS players, having totaled 361 in his three seasons as Oklahoma’s kicker. He needs just 90 more points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, well within reach for a kicker who has hit triple-digits every year. His 46 career FGs rank 3rd by an active kicker and fifth-most in school history.

Parker Shaunfield – Southern Miss
Class: Senior - Hometown: Aledo, Texas
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 20 85.0 0-0 9-10 4-6 3-3 1-1 51 42 44 93
 
A Groza semifinalist in 2016, Shaunfield had a slow start last season, sitting at just 3-for-5 on field goals after five games. Over the next six weeks, he would go 14-for-14, including a 4-for-4 performance in a 34-27 double overtime win over Louisiana Tech and a pair of 3-for-3 FG games in wins over Rice and Charlotte.  

James Stefanou – Colorado
Class: Sophomore - Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
17 22 77.3 0-0 2-2 12-14 2-3 1-3 53 35 35 86
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Stefanou set the Colorado record for points by a freshman last season. He went 3-for-3 on field goals in four different games, including on the road at Arizona State in which he connected from 53 yards out, the fourth-longest FG by a freshman last season. His 15 FGs from at least 30 yards out tie for second-most among returning kickers.

Jet Toner – Stanford
Class: Junior - Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
21 26 80.8 0-0 7-8 9-10 5-7 0-1 46 54 54 117
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Toner’s 21 field goals last season are the fourth-most by a returning FBS kicker and rank second all-time for a single season at Stanford. His points provided the team’s margin of victory in five games, including 3-FG performances in tight road wins over Utah (23-20) and Oregon State (15-14). 

Jameson Vest – Toledo
Class: Senior - Hometown: Peachtree City, Georgia
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
25 30 83.3 0-0 12-12 8-11 5-6 0-1 49 56 59 131
 
A 2017 Groza semifinalist, Vest has had one of the nation’s most prolific careers and seems to only be getting better, posting career highs in FGs, accuracy and points last season. Among active kickers, his 57 career FGs are second-most in FBS, while his 337 points rank third. 

Justin Yoon – Notre Dame
Class: Senior - Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
14 18 77.8 0-0 4-4 5-5 5-8 0-1 49 55 55 97
 
This will be the 131st season of Notre Dame football, and in short order there could be a new name atop the school’s all-time scoring list: Justin Yoon. Yoon needs just 46 points to become the top-scoring Irish player ever. He already stands as the school’s most accurate career kicker ever, with an 80.8% conversion rate that’s also second-best among active kickers with at least 40 field goals.   

Louie Zervos – Ohio
Class: Junior - Hometown: Tarpon Springs, Florida
 
FGM FGA FG% 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LONG XPM XPA PTS
15 18 83.3 1-1 2-2 4-4 8-9 0-2 46 61 64 106
 
Among active kickers with more than one season, no one has kicked more field goals per game than Zervos, having made 44 in two seasons at an average rate of 1.57 per game. He is the only junior in the active top ten for either field goals or kick-scoring. In fact, despite only playing two seasons, he’s already 4th among all active FBS kickers in career field goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos from this years banquet!

 

 

 

                

 

 

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