July 11, 2012
A pair of Conference USA players have been named among the 30 preseason candidates for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award, presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission. The award honors the top kicker in college football and C-USA is represented by Rice junior Chris Boswell and UAB sophomore Ty Long.
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2011 season and 2012 expectations. Ten conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by seven from the Big Ten. The SEC follows with six, along with four each from the ACC and the Pac-12. The Big 12, Conference USA and Sun Belt each placed two representatives, while the Big East, MAC and Mountain West each had a kicker recognized. 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.
Boswell was a semifinalist for the honor as a sophomore while tying the school single-season record with 17 field goals in 2011. Boswell has kicked 28 field goals in his first two years, which ranks third on the Rice career chart and his 156 career points match Froggy Williams for seventh on the career list. He tied for the national lead with three field goals of longer than 50 yards, including a pair against Tulane. Boswell has five career three-pointers from at least 50 yards, tying James Hamrick for the school record.
Long had an outstanding first season for the Blazers as he connected on 16-of-19 field goals, including a pair of game-winning field goals (vs. UCF and Southern Miss) in 2011. He ranked No. 2 among Conference USA kickers in field goal percentage at 84.2 and was third in field goals made per game (1.33). Long's 72 points scored last season ranked third in the country among freshman kickers overall and was the second-highest mark among true freshmen. His 16 field goals were the most of any true freshman kicker in the country in 2011 and second-highest among all freshmen (Oklahoma redshirt frosh Mike Hunnicutt had 20 FGs this season). Long's 1.33 field goal goals per game ranked No. 24 in the NCAA statistics among all kickers.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award announces its 20 semifinalists on Monday, November 5th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 experts selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 19th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 6th during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show, broadcast live from Orlando, Fla.
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.