2018 Preseason Award Projections: Groza Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2018 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 2019 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 Utah’s Matt Gay.

Lou Groza Award Winner:

Justin Yoon, Notre Dame

Yoon plays for a high-profile program, so he will definitely get noticed. He also has been an accurate kicker throughout his career, thus he is a serious contended for the Groza Award. In 2017, Yoon was 14-of-18 with a long of 46 yards. He was 13-of-17 in 2016 with a long of 40 yards. Yoon was an impressive kicker as a freshman for the Fighting Irish in 2015, making 15-of-17 kicks. He was 3-for-4 that season when considering his total attempts from over 40 and 50 yards. With Yoon’s track record and from playing at Notre Dame, he has a real shot at winning the Groza Award.

Lou Groza Award Runner-Up:

Matt Gay, Utah

Gay won the Groza Award last year, which was a surprise considering Auburn’s Daniel and Florida’s Eddy Pineiro were elite kickers. Even though both of them were excellent, Gay was phenomenal and worthy of winning the Groza Award. Gay was extremely accurate for Utah in 2017, connecting on 88 percent of his field goals (30-of-34). He had a long field goal of 56 yards, which he made twice. Gay also had field goals of 53 and 50 yards. He missed twice in the 40-yard range. After winning the award last year, it isn’t a stretch to think that the Lou Groza Award Winner could go to Gay two years in a row. However, the Groza Award has only had one repeat winner, and that was Sebastian Janikowski almost 20 years ago. Thus, I’m putting Gay as the runner-up.

Lou Groza Award Dark Horse:

Louie Zervos, Ohio

In 2017, Zervos was 15-of-18 with a long of 46 yards. He had an impressive debut for Ohio in 2016, hitting on 83 percent of his field goals (29-of-35). His long was 51 yards, and it was his only attempt from over 50 yards on the year. He had three misses in the 40-yard range with six that were good in the 40- to 49-yard range. Zervos plays at a smaller school and has to be nearly perfect to win the Groza Award over players at higher-profile universities.

Honorable Mentions: San Diego State’s John Baron II and Minnesota’s Emmit Carpenter.

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