WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Looking to become the first kicker to ever be named a finalist three times, Auburn senior Daniel Carlson headlines the 30-player watch list for the 2017 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
After seeing Ka’imi Fairbairn and Zane Gonzalez, both now on NFL rosters, take home the trophy the last two years, Carlson is hoping the third time is the charm. He enters the 2017 season with 69 career field goals, the most by an active kicker, and a perfect streak on extra points, having made all 141 career attempts.
He is joined on the watch list by 12 other kickers who have previously been named semifinalists, including Louisiana Tech senior Jonathan Barnes and Virginia Tech senior Joey Slye, the only other active kickers to have earned the semifinalist honor twice.
All 14 kickers who return to FBS after seasons kicking at least 20 field goals made the watch list: Ohio sophomore Louie Zervos (29), Carlson (28), Cal senior Matt Anderson (22), Barnes (22), Minnesota junior Emmit Carpenter (22), Penn State senior Tyler Davis (22), Air Force senior Luke Strebel (22), Ole Miss senior Gary Wunderlich (22), Miami (FL) senior Michael Badgley (21), San Diego State junior John Baron II (21), Tulsa senior Redford Jones (21), Florida junior Eddy Pineiro (21), Wake Forest senior Mike Weaver (21) and Slye (20).
Among returning kickers who attempted at least 15 field goals, only 14 connected at a rate of at least 84 percent, and all of them found their way to the Watch List: Wunderlich (95.7), Carpenter (91.7), Davis (91.7), Baron II (91.3), San Jose State junior Bryce Crawford (88.9), Temple sophomore Aaron Boumerhi (88.2), Fresno State senior Kody Kroening (88.2), Strebel (88.0), Carlson (87.5), Anderson (84.6), Kentucky senior Austin MacGinnis (84.2), Louisville sophomore Blanton Creque (84.2), Middle Tennessee senior Canon Rooker (84.2) and Pineiro (84.0).
The watch list also includes all six returning kickers who connected on multiple field goals from at least 50 yards away: Carlson (four), Pineiro (three), Carpenter (two), Vanderbilt senior Tommy Openshaw (two), New Mexico senior Jason Sanders (two) and Western Kentucky junior Skyler Simcox (two).
While the watch list highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, 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 2nd. From this list, a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers selects the top three finalists for the award by Tuesday, November 21st. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 7th during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The 26th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl Committee, recognizes the three finalists during a celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet on December 4th.
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.