Jul 9, 2014 6:29 PM by Jordan Mason
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. - Air Force senior Will Conant is one of 30 players nationwide to be named to the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award Watch List, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Conant hit 32-of-33 PATs and 11-of-13 field goal attempts last season. He ranked third in the conference in field goal percentage with an 84.6 mark which is the fourth-best in school history and best since Joey Ashcroft hit 88.8 percent (16-18) in 2002.
Conant is one of two kickers in Air Force history to hit three times from 50-plus yards in a season. He hit three 52-yard kicks last season (Colgate, San Diego State, New Mexico), matching Ryan Harrison's three 50-plus field goals in 2007. Conant's three 50-plus field goals already rank him third in school history in career 50-yard field goals.
Conant had a very successful debut game vs. Colgate, hitting all four PATs and nailed his first-career field goal attempt, a 52-yard boot. Conant is just the 11th kicker in school history to hit a field goal of 50-plus yards. The 52-yard effort was the longest by a Falcon since Ryan Harrison vs. Army in 2007. His last five field goals came from 45, 48, 52, 47 and 52 yards.
Looking to become just the second repeat winner in Groza history, Florida State sophomore Roberto Aguayo headlines the list for this season. Aguayo won the 2013 Groza with an incredible freshman season in which he made 99.1% of all his kicks, shattering the all-time FBS record for a season with at least 15 field goals and 30 extra points. If he defends his title, he would join fellow Seminole kicker Sebastian Janikowski (1998 & 1999) as the only players to win multiple Grozas. In addition to last year's winner, 13 other semifinalists from last season return, including South Florida senior Marvin Kloss who was a finalist for the 2013 award.
Including Aguayo, 13 kickers return to FBS coming off seasons in which they connected on double-digit field goals at a rate better than 85%, and all 13 were named to the watch list: Aguayo (95.5%), Toledo senior Jeremiah Detmer (95%), Michigan State sophomore Michael Geiger (93.8%), Ohio junior Josiah Yazdani (93.3%), LSU sophomore Colby Delahoussaye (92.9%), Georgia junior Marshall Morgan (91.7%), Central Florida senior Shawn Moffitt (91.3%), Boise State senior Dan Goodale (89.5%), Oklahoma senior Michael Hunnicutt (88.9%), Memphis sophomore Jake Elliott (88.9%), Colorado State senior Jared Roberts (87.5%), Texas Tech senior Ryan Bustin (85.2%), and Utah sophomore Andy Phillips (85%).
Moving from accuracy to volume, all 11 returning kickers who converted at least 20 field goals are also part of the Watch List: Arizona State sophomore Zane Gonzalez (25), Hunnicutt (24), Bustin (23), San Jose State junior Austin Lopez (22), Morgan (22), Aguayo (21), Maryland junior Brad Craddock (21), Moffitt (21), Roberts (21), Notre Dame senior Kyle Brindza (20), and Louisville junior John Wallace (20).
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2013 season and 2014 expectations. All 10 FBS conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by four each from the American, Big 12, Mountain West, and Pac-12. The ACC, MAC and SEC each placed three kickers, followed by a pair from the Big Ten. Conference USA and the Sun Belt each placed one kicker, along with independent Notre Dame.
While the Watch List highlights 30 of the best returning kickers in the country, Aguayo, who was not on the 2013 Watch List, stands as proof that 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.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Thursday, November 6th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, and former Groza finalists selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 24th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 11th during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live from Orlando, Fla.
The 23rd Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl Committee, recognizes the three finalists during an early week celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet on December 9th, prior to joining ESPN in Orlando.
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.
For more information on the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award and to see the "Stars of the Week" throughout the season, please go to www.lougrozaaward.com. For even more updates on the best kicking performances throughout the season, follow @LouGrozaAward on Twitter.