2016 Preseason Award Projections: Groza Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2017 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Lou Groza Award is given to the best kicker in college football. Last year’s winner was UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbarn.

Lou Groza Award Winner:

Andy Phillips, Utah

Phillips has been extremely accurate during his collegiate career as he has three seasons of over 80 percent on his field goals. Phillips was 23-of-27 in 2015 with a long of 53 yards. In 2014, He was 23-of-28 as a sophomore and hit on 85 percent of his field goals as a freshman. If Phillips maintains his level of play in 2016, he could be college football’s best kicker, which looks likely. Phillips looks like the favorite for the Groza Award.

Lou Groza Award Runner-Up:

Ryan Griffith, Alabama

Griffith was 23-of-32 in 2015 with a long of 55 yards. He was 12-of-19 in 2014. Phillips has a strong leg and could be rated higher if he improves his accuracy. He may have fewer attempts this season as Alabama has to replace its offensive backbone in Derrick Henry. Plus, the Crimson Tide will have a new starting quarterback. Still, Griffith should produce a fair amount of points and could have his best football ahead of him.

Lou Groza Award Dark Horse:

Jake Elliott, Memphis

Elliott hit on 82 percent of his field goals in 2015 – 23-of-28 – with a long of 52 yards. He was 21-for-32 as a sophomore and 16-for-18 as a freshman. Elliott has never missed an extra point. It wouldn’t be surprising if the senior has fewer field goal opportunities in 2016 as Memphis lost quarterback Paxton Lynch to the NFL and will be breaking in a new signal-caller. He definitely is capable of winning the Groza Award from a talent perspective.

Honorable Mentions: West Virginia’s Josh Lambert, Boise State’s Tyler Rausa, Stanford’s Conrad Ukropina, Oklahoma State’s Ben Grogan, Washington’s Cameron Van Winkle, Auburn’s Daniel Carlson, Kentucky’s Austin MacGinnis, Miami’s Michael Badgley, Florida’s Eddy Pineiro and South Carolina’s Elliott Fry.

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