Tulane University senior Cairo Santos headlines the 30-player watch list for the 2013 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, according to the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Santos won the 2012 Groza with the first 21-for-21 field goal season in football bowl subdivisions history. If he defends his title, he would join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998- 99) as the only players to win multiple Grozas.
In addition to last year’s winner, 10 other semifinalists from last season return, including San Jose State sophomore Austin Lopez, whose 17-for-17 season made him the only other kicker to stay perfect on field goals with at least one attempt per game.
Coming just short of perfection, all eight returning kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals and connected on better than 85 percent made the watch list. They are: Northwestern senior Jeff Budzien (95 percent), Clemson senior Chandler Catanzaro (94.7 percent), Eastern Michigan sophomore Dylan Mulder (90.9 percent), Boston College senior Nate Freese (90 percent), Colorado State junior Jared Roberts (90 percent), Michigan senior Brendan Gibbons (88.9 percent), Oregon State junior Trevor Romaine (88.9 percent) and Duke sophomore Ross Martin (87 percent).
Moving from accuracy to volume, all eight returning kickers who converted at least 20 field goals were also part of the watch list. They are: Toledo junior Jeremiah Detmer (24), Rice senior Chris Boswell (23), Notre Dame junior Kyle Brindza (23), TCU sophomore Jaden Oberkrom (22), Santos (21), Virginia Tech senior Cody Journell (20), Martin (20) and Vanderbilt senior Carey Spear (20).
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award watch list were chosen based on statistics from the 2012 season and 2013 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by four each from the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA and the MAC, while the Mountain West placed three representatives. The American, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and the Sun Belt each had two kickers recognized, along with independent Notre Dame. While the watch list highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, Santos, who was not on the 2012 watch list, stands as proof that the Groza committee will be watching all kickers during the season, and releasing a weekly “Stars of the Week” feature at www.lougrozaaward.com.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season, and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Nov. 4. From this list, a panel of more than 300 head coaches, SIDs, media members and former winners selects the top three finalists for the award by Nov. 25. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Dec. 12 during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live from Orlando.
The 22nd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl Committee, recognizes the three finalists during an early week celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet on Dec. 10, prior to joining ESPN in Orlando.
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.