WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Florida State senior Dustin Hopkins and Florida senior Caleb Sturgis, finalists for the award in 2011, headline the 30-player watch list for the 2012 Lou Groza Award, presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Hopkins has led ACC kickers in scoring per game each of the past two seasons and enters this year 68 points away from becoming the conference’s all-time leading scorer. Sturgis averaged 1.83 field goals per game last year, the most by any kicker returning this season.
In addition to the two finalists, 16 other semifinalists from last season return, including the only four kickers who finished the season with better field goal percentages than 2011 Groza winner Randy Bullock. Louisiana-Lafayette senior Brett Baer (90.0 percent), LSU senior Drew Alleman (88.9 percent), Southern California sophomore Andre Heidari (88.2 percent) and Oklahoma State senior Quinn Sharp (88.0 percent) all bested Bullock’s 87.9 percent. Ohio senior Matt Weller, whose 25 field goals were the most by any kicker returning this year, was closest to matching the former Texas A&M kicker’s 29 made field goals.
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award watch list were chosen based on statistics from the 2011 season and 2012 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by seven players from the Big Ten. The SEC follows with six, along with four each from the ACC and the Pac-12. The Big 12, Conference USA and Sun Belt each placed two representatives, while the Big East, MAC and Mountain West each had a kicker recognized.
A panel of more than 300 experts will select the semifinalists and three finalists for the award. That same group selects the national winner, who will be announced on Dec. 6 during the ESPNU College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla.
The 21st 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.
|Drew Basil||Ohio State||Junior|
|Tyler Bitancurt||West Virginia||Senior|
|Maikon Bonani||South Florida||Senior|
|Dan Conroy||Michigan State||Senior|
|Anthony Fera||Penn State||Junior|
|Andrew Furney||Washington State||Junior|
|Jack Griffin||Florida International||Senior|
|Andre Heidari||Southern California||Sophomore|
|Parker Herrington||Air Force||Senior|
|Dustin Hopkins||Florida State||Senior|
|Jimmy Newman||Wake Forest||Senior|
|Quinn Sharp||Oklahoma State||Senior|
|Jake Wieclaw||Miami (Fla.)||Senior|
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