Three More Groza Finalists Set to Join the Ranks of NFL Kickers
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA – With the college football season about to kick off, and with it the campaign for the 22nd annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission is proud to announce that 11 former finalists for the Groza, including six winners, are in place to kick in the NFL this year.
While last year’s Groza winner Cairo Santos returns to Tulane University for his senior season, all three 2011 finalists will be kicking on Sundays. Winner Randy Bullock, drafted out of Texas A&M in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, will finally take the field for the Houston Texans after missing all of last season with injury. The two finalists he beat out for the award were the only kickers drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Miami Dolphins drafted Caleb Sturgis out of the University of Florida in the 5th round, while the Buffalo Bills took Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins in the 6th. Sturgis and Hopkins were finalists for both the 2011 and 2012 Groza Awards.
Bullock makes it four straight NFL-eligible Groza Award winners kicking on Sundays, joining Dan Bailey (2010) of the Dallas Cowboys, Kai Forbath (2009) with the Washington Redskins, and Graham Gano (2008) on the Carolina Panthers. 2004 Groza winner Mike Nugent will kick for the Cincinnati Bengals, while Sebastian Janikowski, the only kicker to ever win two Grozas (1998 & 1999), will begin his 14th season with the Oakland Raiders.
In addition to the winners, three more Groza finalists are slated to open the 2013 NFL season. As a sophomore at the University of Georgia, Blair Walsh lost out to Forbath for the 2009 Groza Award, but as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings last year, he was named to the Pro Bowl and set an NFL record with 10 field goals from 50 yards or longer. 2006 finalist Garrett Hartley won Super Bowl XLIV with the New Orleans Saints, and the next year, 2005 finalist Mason Crosby help the Green Bay Packers to Super Bowl XLV.
Since the first Lou Groza Award was handed out in 1992, 16 finalists, including 10 winners, have gone on to appear in the NFL, earning eight trips to the Pro Bowl and taking home five Super Bowls. That number will jump to 19 on Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season when the three members of the Class of 2011 – Bullock, Hopkins, and Sturgis – take their first professional kicks. Meanwhile, the search for the next three Groza finalists begins on Thursday with the kickoff of the college football season. The Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Monday, November 4th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, and former winners selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 25th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 12th during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live on ESPN from Orlando, Florida.
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 December 10th, 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.
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.
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 Awards program, the Sports Hall of Fame and the Kids Fitness Festival For more information on the Palm Beach County Sports Commission go to www.PalmBeachSports.com.
About the National College Football Awards Association
The Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award (www.LouGrozaAward) is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official Web site, www.NCFAA.org.