The Palm Beach County Sports Commission has released the 20 semifinalists for the 2019 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl. These 20 kickers have all excelled throughout the season in earning their places as semifinalists.
Only three honorees are past semifinalists, led by Georgia senior Rodrigo Blankenship who has now earned the distinction in each of the past three seasons. Indiana senior Logan Justus and Arkansas senior
Connor Limpert both repeat from last year’s list.
Though most of the names are new, the performances of these semifinalists are as strong as ever. The list includes all nine qualifying kickers who have made more than 10 field goals while connecting at a 90% rate or better: Washington sophomore Peyton Henry (15/15), Wake Forest sophomore Nick Sciba (15/15), Washington State sophomore Blake Mazza (13/13), Justus (12/12), TCU senior Jonathan Song (15/16), Oklahoma State senior Matt Ammendola (14/15), Arkansas State sophomore Blake Grupe (13/14), Marshall senior Justin Rohrwasser (13/14), and Tennessee junior Brent Cimaglia (18/20). In addition to perfect field goal seasons from Henry, Sciba, Mazza and Justus, the list also includes three kickers yet to miss on fewer attempts: Oklahoma freshman Gabe Brkic (10/10), Air Force senior Jake Koehnke (9/9), and Duke junior AJ Reed (9/9).
Koehnke is tied for the national lead in field goal percentage, hitting all nine of his attempts this season. He has hit 10 straight dating back to last season. Koehnke is one of just seven kickers nationally to be perfect on the year in field goals. Koehnke hit a career-long 57 yard field goal vs. Utah State which ties as the sixth-longest in Air Force history and is the longest since 2007. He tied a school record with four field goals at Navy, including a three of 40-plus yards. He is the first Falcon with four field goals in a game since Erik Soderberg in 2009. He has hit 18 of 21 field goals in his career. His 85.7 career field goal percentage ranks second in school history.
In terms of sheer number of makes, three semifinalists currently have a strong lead on the rest of the nation. Iowa junior Keith Duncan (19), East Carolina junior Jake Verity (19) and Cimaglia (18) top the FBS leaderboard for field goals, well ahead of a pack of kickers with 15 makes each.
The semifinal list also has its share of big legs. The five FBS kickers who have booted multiple field goals from at least 50 yards while still making at least 80% of their kicks are all represented: Blankenship (3),
Cimaglia (2), Miami-Ohio senior Sam Sloman (2), Mazza (2) and Memphis junior Riley Patterson (2).
Semifinalists will be voted on by a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers to select the three finalists. These finalists will be announced on November 25th and honored at the 28th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards
Banquet on December 9th in Palm Beach County. The same panel then selects the winner, who will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Thursday, December 12th.
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.
Since the first Lou Groza Award was handed out in 1992, 27 finalists, including 15 winners, have gone on to appear in the NFL, earning 10 trips to the Pro Bowl and taking home six Super Bowls. That list includes 2019 NFL kickers Dan Bailey, Randy Bullock, Daniel Carlson, Mason Crosby, Jake Elliott, Ka’imi Fairbairn, Graham Gano, Matt Gay, Zane Gonzalez, Dustin Hopkins, Mike Nugent, and Cairo Santos.
For more information regarding the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, please visit LouGrozaAward.com, or follow @LouGrozaAward on Twitter for updates as they happen. National College Football Awards Association
The Lou Groza Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the association.