WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Finalists for the award in 2011, Florida State senior Dustin Hopkins and Florida senior Caleb Sturgis headline the thirty-player Watch List for the 2012 Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Hopkins has led the ACC in kick-scoring per game each of the past two seasons and enters this year 68 points away from becoming the conference’s all-time leading scorer. Not to be outdone by his in-state rival, Sturgis averaged 1.83 field goals per game last year, the most by any kicker returning this season. In addition to the two finalists, 16 other semifinalists from last season return, including the only four kickers who finished the season with better field goal percentages than 2011 Groza winner Randy Bullock. Louisiana-Lafayette senior Brett Baer (90.0%), LSU senior Drew Alleman (88.9%), Southern California sophomore Andre Heidari (88.2%) and Oklahoma State senior Quinn Sharp (88.0%) all bested Bullock’s 87.9% mark, though none came closest to matching the former Texas A&M kicker’s 29 made field goals. That distinction goes to Ohio senior Matt Weller, whose 25 field goals were the most by any kicker returning this year.
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 thirty 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.
2012 Pre-season Lou Groza Award Watch List (SEC Only)
Drew Alleman, LSU
Zach Hocker, Arkansas
Craig McIntosh, Kentucky
Jeremy Shelley, Alabama
Caleb Sturgis, Florida
Cody Parkey, Auburn