Headlined by three former finalists, a previous winner, and an unprecedented 20 former semifinalists, it’s a highly competitive year on the thirty-player Watch List for the 2021 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Last year’s Groza winner, Jose Borregales, is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, but his fellow finalists BYU junior Jake Oldroyd and Alabama junior Will Reichard are back to vie for the award. Also returning is SMU senior Blake Mazza, who was a finalist in 2019 while at Washington State, as well as Syracuse senior and 2018 Groza winner Andre Szmyt, who could become just the second player to ever win the award multiple times, joining Sebastian Janikowski who won in 1998 and 1999.
With schools playing such a varied number of games last season, this year’s Watch List leans heavily on accuracy. In fact, all 16 kickers returning to FBS who attempted 10 field goals and connected at 85% or better are represented on the list: Reichard (14, 100%), Oldroyd (13, 100%), Oklahoma State junior Alex Hale (13, 92.9%), Wyoming sophomore John Hoyland (13, 92.9%), Western Kentucky junior Brayden Narveson (13, 92.9%), UAB sophomore Matt Quinn (11, 91.7%), Auburn senior Anders Carlson (20, 90.9%), Indiana junior Charles Campbell (10, 90.9%), Nebraska super senior Connor Culp (13, 86.7%), Duke sophomore Charlie Ham (13, 86.7%), Louisville junior James Turner (13, 86.7%), LSU junior Cade York (18, 85.7%), Louisiana Tech sophomore Jacob Barnes (12, 85.7%), Kentucky super senior Matt Ruffolo (12, 85.7%), UTSA super senior Hunter Duplessis (17, 85%), and Missouri sophomore Harrison Mevis (17, 85%).
Even though last year’s season was shortened, more and more field goals are getting kicked from long distances. All six returning kickers who made at least 3 field goals from 50 yards or further were voted onto the Watch List: York (6), Oklahoma junior Gabe Brkic (4), Campbell (3), Mevis (3), Oldroyd (3), and Georgia junior Jack Podlesny (3).
While the Watch List highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, the Groza Committee will be watching all FBS kickers throughout 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 4th. 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, announced on Tuesday, November 23rd. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 9th during the Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.
The 30th 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 at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on December 6th.
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.