Zane Gonzalez, kicker for the Arizona State Sun Devils, has been named one of the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award.
The award is given to the nation’s top place-kicker in college, as determined by a panel of Division I head coaches, sports writers, sportscasters, professional kickers, and previous kickers who have won the award.
Before the season, the Lou Groza Watch List is released, which recognizes the top 30 kickers in the nation. The list is based statistics from the previous season, as well as preseason predictions and projections. Gonzalez was one of the top collegiate kickers mentioned in the preseason report.
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During the season, the committee analyzes the success of all kickers throughout the country. Beginning in September and continuously done over the course of the season, three kickers are recognized for their performance that week. Then, in early-November, a list of 20 finalists is released. From that list, a group of 300 experts are given the task of selecting three finalists for the award towards the end of November. The same panel of experts choose the winner, which will be announced on Thursday, December 8.
Gonzalez has enjoyed a near-perfect senior season, with 23 field goals made in 24 attempts. In 34 extra point attempts, he’s missed just one. According to espn.com, Gonzalez owns the longest field goal in the nation this year, at 59 yards. For kicks over 50 yards, the 6’1″, 190 pound kicker is 7-8. He is also a perfect 16-16 from kicks ranging from 20-49 yards.
The four-year starter holds the ASU school record with 165 career extra points made, and has made 91 in a row. Gonzalez was named a Lou Groza finalist in his freshman, sophomore, and now senior seasons. Just two seasons ago, he finished as a semifinalist.
Gonzalez is up for the award against Auburn’s Daniel Carlson and Georgia Southern’s Younghoe Koo. If Gonzalez wins, he will become the first Sun Devil to win the award since Thomas Weber did it in 2007.
The award was named after Lou Gorza, former Ohio State Buckeye and Cleveland Brown. He played with the Browns for his entire 23-year career, setting single-season NFL records for accuracy, distance, and number of field goals. Nicknamed “The Toe”, Gorza was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
Although the three finalists were just announced today, fans can already begin to vote for their favorite finalist on lougrozaaward.com.