Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis was named to the 2017 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award preseason watch list Wednesday. Louisville junior Blanton Creque and Western Kentucky’s Skyler Simcox were also among the 30 candidates.
MacGinnis, a senior from Wedowee, Ala., is one of the nation’s top returning kickers and connected on a pair of game-winning field goals in 2016. His 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left at No. 11 Louisville marked his second game-winning kick of the season after he also made a 51-yard field goal as time expired for a 40-38 win over Mississippi State.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder hit 16 of 19 field goal attempts in 2016 and he enters the 2017 season with a streak of seven straight made field goals, which is just four short of his own school record of 11 straight. He is just the second player in school history to hit at least 50 career field goals (57, Joey Worley, 1984-1987) and his 257 career points ranks No. 2 on UK’s all-time scoring list. He needs just 48 more to tie Lones Seiber (2006-09) as the top scorer.
Louisville’s Creque went 16-of-19 on field goal attempts in 2016 — tied for the third-most made field goals made in a season at Louisville. The Shelbyville native’s 84.2 field goal percentage last year ranked third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while his 87 points scored ranked 14th in the league overall.
WKU’s Simcox, a sophomore transfer from Abingdon, Va., who became eligible immediately last fall, is one of just six returning kickers in the nation to connect on multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer last season, and he became the third kicker in program history to connect on two 50-yard kicks in a career and only the second to do it in a single season. Simcox was 16-of-22 in field goals, the fourth-most in a season in WKU history. His 118 points tied former kicker Garrett Schwettman's 2014 mark for the second-most points scored by a kicker in a single season.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Nov. 2. From this list, a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, former Groza finalists, and current NFL kickers selects the top three finalists for the award by Nov. 21. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 7 during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The 26th Annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl Committee, recognizes the three finalists during a celebration in Palm Beach County, culminating with a gala awards banquet on Dec. 4.
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.
Ray Guy Award
Western Kentucky punter Jake Collins was among 29 candidates named to the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list Wednesday.
Collins, a former walk-on from Louisville, earned his third consecutive Ray Guy Award Watch List designation after a sophomore campaign that saw him named to the Conference USA Second Team and the CampusInsiders.com Sophomore All-American Team.
For the year, Collins average 42.7 yards per punt including seven punts of 50 yards or more. His average for the season was the third-best single-season mark in program history, and his career average of 42.2 yards is on pace to rank as the best in school history.
College football award watch lists