WEST PALM BEACH - The national panel of college football experts assembled by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission has selected the three finalists for the 21st Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. Dustin Hopkins of Florida State, Cairo Santos of Tulane, and Caleb Sturgis of the University of Florida will vie for the honor.
Hopkins, a senior from Houston, Texas, became the all-time FBS leader in career points by a kicker on Saturday, having scored 448 points for the Seminoles over the last four seasons.
A finalist for the Groza in 2011, Hopkins has bettered his totals from last season across the board, making 22 of 26 field goals and 56 of 57 extra points. The 22 field goals are the second most in the nation, and his 84.6 percent conversion rate is the second highest among kickers with at least 20 field goals.
Santos, a junior from St. Augustine, Fla., has converted every field goal he’s attempted this season, going a perfect 20-for-20.
With one game remaining for Tulane, Santos has a chance to join 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. 12 of those kicks have come from 40 or more yards, the most in the nation, including kicks from 57 and 54 yards out. Santos is 24-for-25 on PATs, with a blocked kick the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season.
Sturgis, another St. Augustine native, returns as a finalist for the second straight year after converting 20 of 24 field goals and 28 of 29 extra points. It’s the third season he has made at least 20 field goals, and the senior stands one shy of matching Florida’s all-time mark of 67.
The Gators’ career leader in makes from 50 or more yards, Sturgis is 3-for-3 from long distance this season. His 20 field goals are the most in the SEC and tied for fifth in the nation. Three of his four misses were blocked.
This year, fans can have their part in naming the winner of the Lou Groza Award. Fans can visit HERE and cast a vote for their favorite of the three finalists selected by the national panel of voters. The finalist who receives the greatest total of fan votes will be given one vote on the final ballot. One vote can make a difference in the final outcome so fans are encouraged to participate.
The three finalists will be honored at the 21st Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on Tuesday, December 4 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
For more information on the Groza Award and the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, visit www.palmbeachsports.com.
The three Lou Groza Award finalists will be highlighted on ESPNU during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special airing Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. (EST). The 30-minute show, hosted by Matt Schick, will include player interviews and analysis from Kevin Carter surrounding finalists for the Lou Groza Award and other members of the National College Football Awards Association.
This year’s Lou Groza Award winner will be revealed on ESPN during The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
The Lou Groza Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official website, ncfaa.org.
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