Looking to become just the second repeat winner in history, Syracuse sophomore Andre Szmyt headlines the thirty-player Watch List for the 2019 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Szmyt, just the third freshman to ever win the Groza, became the second kicker in FBS history to lead all players in points per game. If he defends his title, he would join former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998 & 1999) as the only players to win multiple Grozas. He is joined on the Watch List by two former finalists, Wyoming senior Cooper Rothe and Utah State senior Dominik Eberle, as well as ten other past semifinalists.
Among the players on the Watch List are all 11 returning FBS kickers who made at least 19 field goals last season: Szmyt (30), Missouri senior Tucker McCann (24), NC State sophomore Christopher Dunn (23), Eberle (22), Ole Miss junior Luke Logan (22), Texas A&M sophomore Seth Small (20), Georgia Southern senior Tyler Bass (19), Georgia senior Rodrigo Blankenship (19), Arkansas senior Connor Limpert (19), Wake Forest sophomore Nick Sciba (19), and East Carolina senior Jake Verity (19).
Among returning kickers who made more than 10 field goals, only nine connected at a rate of at least 86%, and all of them found their way to the Watch List: Rothe (94.1), Stanford senior Jet Toner (93.3), Bass (90.5), Verity (90.5), Florida sophomore Evan McPherson (89.5), Dunn (88.5), Szmyt (88.2), Kansas State junior Blake Lynch (87.5), and Sciba (86.4).
Moving from accuracy to distance, the Watch List also encompasses the only nine returning kickers who made eight or more field goals from at least 40 yards out: Bass (10), Eberle (9), West Virginia junior Evan Staley (9), Blankenship (8), Charlotte sophomore Jonathan Cruz (8), Texas sophomore Cameron Dicker (8), Pittsburgh junior Alex Kessman (8), McCann (8), and Troy junior Tyler Sumpter (8).
While the Watch List highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, Szmyt, who as a freshman was thus not on last year’s Watch List, stands as proof that 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 7th. From this list, a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers select the top three finalists for the award, announced on Tuesday, November 26th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 12th during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
The 28th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl, 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 9th. For tickets to this year’s banquet visit lougrozaaward.com or call 561-233-3180.
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. 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.
The Lou Groza Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the association.
The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 10-day period this month. Sixteen of the association’s 25 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates.