Tulane's Cairo Santos Named the 2012 Lou Groza Award Winner
Dec. 6, 2012
It was a perfect ending to a perfect season. Tonight in front of a national television audience on ESPN, Tulane junior kicker Cairo Santos was named the 2012 winner of the prestigious Lou Groza Award during the 2012 Home Depot College Football Awards Show at the Walt Disney World Resort. Legendary NFL kicker and former New Orleans Saint Morten Andersen presented Santos with the 21st Groza Award.
Santos, who was named a finalist, along with Florida's Caleb Sturgis and Florida State's Dustin Hopkins, completed one of the finest campaigns by a kicker in NCAA history by finishing a perfect 21-of-21 on field goal attempts. Santos was named to the All-Conference USA First Team and joined 1996 Groza winner Marc Primanti as the only kickers in FBS history to stay perfect throughout a season in which they attempted 20 or more, but Santos finished with one more make than Primanti, who was 20-of-20 in 1996.
"I think if you look at the replay you can see I was in complete shock when they called my name for the award," Santos said. "It was great to be on the same stage as Dustin Hopkins and Caleb Sturgis as finalists. They are two of the finest individuals I have ever met. I am in shock but so happy at the same time. This is a tremendous honor and I am very grateful, but it would not have been possible without my coaches and teammates, especially my holder Ryan Rome and deep snapper Billy Johnson. This award is for each of them as well. I would also like to thank the Lou Groza Award committee and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission."
Santos, who hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, but prepped as an exchange student at St. Joseph's Academy in St. Augustine, Fla., is the second Green Wave kicker to receive the nation's top place-kicking honor, joining All-American Seth Marler who claimed the Groza Trophy in 2001. Santos is now the third kicker from Conference USA to claim the Lou Groza Award, joining Marler and Cincinnati's Jonathan Ruffin (2000).
"Cairo is a fantastic guy and very deserving of this honor after all the hard work he put into this past season," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "Whatever he says he can do and it's unbelievable to have a young man who was able to overcome all the distractions we had this season and put together a perfect season. It's tough to be perfect in anything, but Cairo did it. He's very important to us and to our program and I am very happy for him."
Santos, who also connected 27-of-28 PAT attempts, led the nation with 12, 40+ yard field goals, including a pair of 50-yarders, and set the school record with a 57-yarder vs. Rice, which tied for the fourth longest in the nation this season. He also nailed a 54-yarder against ULM. Santos led C-USA in field goal percentage (1.000), field goals per game (1.75) and ranked eighth nationally in field goals per game while sitting fifth in kicking points scored (89) per game (7.4), tied for fifth in PAT percentage (.963) and was seventh in overall points per game (7.4).