Former finalists Joshua Karty and Will Reichard are joined by a pair of three-time semifinalists among the thirty-player Watch List for the 2023 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Proving just how difficult it is to win the Groza, Stanford senior Karty and Alabama senior Reichard were each perfect on field goals in their finalist seasons, Karty’s last year on 18 attempts and Reichard’s in 2020 on 14 tries, yet neither took home the trophy. That’s further underscored by the fact that the nation’s active career leader in total field goals, Nevada senior Brandon Talton, and the active leader in field goals from at least 40 yards out, Missouri senior Harrison Mevis, are yet to even reach finalist status despite each being a semifinalist in their first three seasons.
With that high bar in mind, 14 of the 30 selections came from the returning 2022 and 2021 semifinalists, but they’re joined by a group of kickers with resumes every bit as strong. Ten kickers return to FBS this season after having made at least 20 field goals last year, and all ten are on the Watch List: Buffalo senior Alex McNulty (24), Boise State senior Jonah Dalmas (23), Wyoming senior John Hoyland (22), Mevis (22), Reichard (22), Wisconsin sophomore Nathanial Vakos (22), Texas junior Bert Auburn (21), San Diego State senior Jack Browning (20), Pitt junior Ben Sauls (20) and Michigan senior James Turner (20).
In terms of accuracy, both of last year’s perfect kickers are on the Watch List – Karty and South Carolina senior Mitch Jeter (11-for-11) – as are the other six returning kickers who attempted at least 14 field goals and made them at a 90% rate or better: South Alabama senior Diego Guajardo (94.7), Arkansas State sophomore Dominic Zvada (94.4), UCF sophomore Colton Boomer (93.3), Temple senior Camden Price (92.9), Turner (90.9), and Kentucky senior Alex Raynor (90.0).
While the Watch List highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, last year’s winner Christopher Dunn from NC State was not on last year’s list, proof that the Groza Committee will in fact be watching all FBS kickers throughout the season, as all FBS kickers remain eligible to be selected as semifinalists. The Committee also releases its “Stars of the Week” feature throughout the season on www.lougrozaaward.com.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Thursday, November 9th. 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 28th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Friday, December 8th during the Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.
The 32nd 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 on December 4th in West Palm Beach, Florida.
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.
National College Football Awards Association
The Lou Groza Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA includes college football’s most prestigious awards and its 24 awards have honored more than 900 recipients dating back to 1935. This season, 12 NCFAA awards will honor national players of the week each Tuesday.
|Kenneth Almendares – Louisiana|
|Only two kickers return to FBS after going 3-for-3 on field goals from over 50 yards last year: Groza finalist Joshua Karty and Almendares. He made a field goal in every game in which he played last year, finishing out the year on an active streak of 12 straight makes. Five of those came against Georgia Southern, tying Louisiana’s single-game record.|
|Bert Auburn – Texas|
|After just one full season, Auburn is already perched high in the Texas record books, with the program’s second-highest kick-scoring season and the fourth-most field goals in one campaign. In one of last season’s most exciting games, he connected on four field goals against Alabama, including a 49 yarder to give Texas a lead with less than 90 seconds left.|
|Colton Boomer – UCF|
|The only thing separating Colton Boomer from a perfect freshman field goal kicking season was a 64-yard “attempt” that wasn’t supposed to be snapped. On every intentional kick, he put the ball through the uprights. That includes four times against Georgia Tech, matching the UCF single-game mark.|
|Andres Borregales – Miami (FL)|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Borregales has posted 17-FG seasons in each of his first two seasons, giving him the second-most field goals of any active FBS kicker with just two years of play. He made at least three kicks in three games, including a 4-for-4 performance against Virginia in which he sent the game to overtime before adding 2 FGs in the extra periods.|
|Jack Browning – San Diego State|
|Despite being one of only 10 returning FBS kickers to make 20 field goals last year, Browning may actually have garnered more acclaim as the Mountain West’s top punter, making him one of the game’s premier specialists. He kicked multiple field goals in 7 games, including a 3-FG performance with the game-winner in a 16-14 victory over Hawaii.|
|Ryan Coe – North Carolina|
|[stats from 2022 at Cincinnati]
After two record-setting years at Delaware, Coe’s first FBS season at Cincinnati got off to a bit of a slow start with just 4 field goals in his first 6 games. But over the next 6, he would go 15-for-16, jumpstarted by a 5-for-6 performance in a 29-27 win on the road against SMU. He takes his 45 career field goals to UNC this season.
|Jonah Dalmas – Boise State|
|A Groza semifinalist in both 2022 and 2021, Dalmas has 56 career field goals in just three seasons, ranking him fourth among all active FBS kickers regardless of career length. Among kickers with at least three seasons of play, his 88.9% career accuracy is easily the highest. He went 4-for-4 in back-to-back wins over Fresno State and Air Force.|
|Matthew Dapore – Air Force|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Dapore kicked multiple field goals in seven games, including five of the first six contests, going 10-for-11 over that opening span. He is one of just six returning FBS kickers with at least 3 kicks from long distance, including a 54 yarder against Colorado that tied for the 8th longest kick last season.|
|Jesús Gómez - Eastern Michigan|
|Gómez only attempted field goals in two of his first five games, but from there he finished strong, connecting in each of his last 8 contests, including a 51-yard kick in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on his final attempt of the year. Paired with a 55 yarder on the road at Ball State, he’s one of only 13 returning kickers with multiple FGs from long distance last year.|
|Diego Guajardo – South Alabama|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Guajardo only missed once on 19 attempts. Among returning kickers with at least 19 tries, his 94.7% accuracy is the best in the country. His two biggest kicks both came on the road: a season-long 49 yarder against Southern Miss, and a 43 yarder as time expired to earn a 20-17 victory over Louisiana.|
|John Hoyland – Wyoming|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Hoyland’s 88% accuracy rate is the best by a returning FBS kicker who made more than 20 field goals last season. He maintained that percentage despite being one of only two kickers in the country with 4 made field goals from over 50 yards. Among kickers with at least 50 attempts, his career 84.9% accuracy is tied for second-best.|
|Mitch Jeter – South Carolina|
|Jeter had big shoes to fill, replacing South Carolina’s all-time leading scorer in Parker White. He didn’t miss a beat, finishing alongside Groza finalist Joshua Karty as the only FBS kickers to stay perfect on double-digit attempts. He made his presence known right from the start, connecting from 53 and 51 yards on his first two career field goal attempts.|
|Joshua Karty – Stanford|
|A finalist for the 2022 Groza Award, Karty joins the NCAA record book with just the fourth perfect FG season in FBS history. Even more incredible, he led all FBS kickers with 13 of those makes coming from at least 40 yards out, including a 61-yard blast against Cal that stands as the longest field goal in the 125-year history of the Big Game.|
|Griffin Kell – TCU|
|One huge factor in TCU’s run to the CFP National Championship game was kicker Griffin Kell. In late November, down by 2 on the road at Baylor with no timeouts to stop the clock, Kell ran out with no time to set up before attempting – and nailing – a 40 yarder to keep TCU’s dream season alive. All 17 of his kicks came from 30 yards out or further.|
|Seth Keller – Kansas|
|[stats from 2022 at Texas State]
In what turned out to be his final game at Texas State, Keller became the program’s all-time leader in field goals, finishing with 37 makes in his three seasons. They came on just 43 attempts, meaning he brings to Kansas a career 86.0% accuracy rate that is second among active FBS kickers with at least 40 tries.
|Tyler Loop – Arizona|
|After going a perfect 12-for-12 in his first season as Arizona’s place-kicker, Loop did finally miss last season, but only three times on 21 attempts. That 30-for-33 stretch makes him the most accurate career kicker with multiple FBS seasons. In Arizona’s four games against ranked opponents last year, he went a combined 9-for-9 and scored 35 points.|
|Alex McNulty – Buffalo|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, McNulty set Buffalo’s program record for field goals in a season with 24. That mark is also the most by any kicker returning to FBS this year. 18 of them came from at least 30 yards, also the most by a returning kicker. His 4-for-4 performance on the road at Coastal Carolina was the best by a Bulls kicker since 2007.|
|Harrison Mevis – Missouri|
|A Groza semifinalist in 2020, 2021 and 2022, Mevis is one of only two active kickers to be so honored three times. He has established himself as the country’s premier long-distance kicker, with 10 career makes from 50 yards doubling any other active player. His 30 career FGs from at least 40 yards out are also tops in the nation, seven more than the next highest total. He brought his biggest leg for the biggest game, going 5-for-5 with makess from 56 and 52 yards against Georgia.|
|Brayden Narveson – NC State|
|[stats from 2022 at Western Kentucky]
A Groza semifinalist in 2020, Narveson comes to NC State to fill the shoes of last year’s winner Christopher Dunn. He is one of only 5 active FBS kickers with more than 50 career field goals, with 21 of those coming from at least 40 yards out, the third-highest total in the nation. He did not miss a PAT in his three years at Western Kentucky, going 158-for-158.
|Camden Price – Temple|
|Price didn’t step on the field until October, but he managed to put together one of the most efficient seasons in FBS. Among returning kickers with at least 10 attempts, his 92.9% accuracy rate ranks 6th while his 9 field goals from at least 30 yards are tied for the 4th most by a kicker who finished at 90% or better.|
|Alex Raynor – Kentucky|
|[stats from 2022 at Georgia Southern]
Raynor comes to Kentucky following a year in which he led all Sun Belt players in scoring and posted his second 18-FG season in three years at Georgia Southern. He is one of only two returning FBS kickers who finished the year at 90% or better on at least 20 attempts.
|Will Reichard – Alabama|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist as well as a finalist for the award in 2020, Reichard stands as the all-time leading scorer in the storied history of Alabama football. His 33 yarder with just 10 seconds left lifted the Tide to a 20-19 road win over Texas and marked the first game-winning field goal by an Alabama kicker since 2006.|
|Ben Sauls – Pittsburgh|
|Arguably no kicker finished last season hotter than Sauls, who made 15 of his final 16 attempts with a miss from 54 yards the only blemish. More specifically, he put up the biggest performance of the postseason, scoring 17 points on a 5-for-5 field goal performance in the Sun Bowl that finished with 47 yarder in the closing seconds to give Pitt a 37-35 win.|
|Matthew Shipley – Hawaii|
|A Groza semifinalist in 2021, Shipley has put up back-to-back seasons of attempting at least 20 field goals and connecting at a rate of 80% or better. That’s something that not even three-time Pro Bowler Jason Elam, a finalist for the very first Lou Groza Award, managed in his five seasons at Hawaii.|
|Spencer Shrader – Notre Dame|
|[stats from 2022 at USF]
A Groza semifinalist in 2021, Shrader comes to Notre Dame after leading all USF players in scoring last season. He finished his time with the Bulls as the program’s fifth-leading career kick-scorer despite only playing in nine games over his first two seasons.
|Drew Stevens – Iowa|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Stevens was one of only two freshmen to be so honored last season. His 16 field goals are the most ever by a freshman at Iowa. Among the 13 returning FBS kickers who made multiple long distance field goals last year, his 88.9% accuracy ranked third. He scored the opening and game-winning points in a 13-10 win over Minnesota.|
|Brandon Talton – Nevada|
|A Groza semifinalist in 2019, 2020 and 2021, Talton is the most prolific active kicker in FBS with 68 career field goals. They’ve come on 85 attempts, giving him a career 80% accuracy rate. If he can maintain that mark with 15 more attempts, he will become just the 5th kicker in FBS history with an 80% conversion rate on 100 career attempts.|
|James Turner – Michigan|
|[stats from 2022 at Louisville]
A Groza semifinalist in 2020, Turner steps in to fill the shoes of 2021 Lou Groza Award winner Jake Moody. In his final season at Louisville, Turner set the program’s single-season mark for accuracy while finishing tied for the second-most makes in a year. He’s the only kicker in Louisville history with multiple 4-FG games.
|Nathanial Vakos – Wisconsin|
|[stats from 2022 at Ohio]
With 22 makes last year, Vakos led all freshmen kickers and ties for third-most among all returning FBS kickers. In his final game at Ohio, he sent the Arizona Bowl to OT with his third field goal, one of four games in which he kicked at least 3 field goals. That includes a 4-for-5 road performance at Western Michigan in which he connected from 55 yards out.
|Dominic Zvada – Arkansas State|
|A 2022 Groza semifinalist, Zvada was one of only two freshmen to be so honored last season. Only two returning FBS kickers attempted at least 18 field goals and connected at a higher rate than his 94.4% accuracy. His only miss came from 51 yards but that’s dwarfed by the 56-yarder he did make, tied for the third-longest field goal in the country last year.|