Jake Elliott, who connected on 16-of-18 field goal attempts and converted all 24 of his point-after tries to lead the Tigers with 72 points scored last year as a freshman, has been named to the thirty-player Watch List for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. The Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced the initial list of players to watch on Wednesday.
Elliott is one of 13 kickers returning to FBS programs who are coming off seasons in which they connected on double-digit field goals at a rate of 85 percent or better. All 13 players were named to the watch list headlined by 2013 Lou Groza Award winner Roberto Aguayo of Florida State.
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2013 season and 2014 expectations. All ten FBS conferences are represented among the 30 kickers, led by four each from the American, Big 12, Mountain West and Pact 12.
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Last year Elliott was named to the American Athletic Conference all-conference team as selected by the league's coaches.
As a true freshman, Elliott's 16 field goals made tied for fifth-most in school history and also tied for the most by a Memphis freshman. For the 2013 season, he was the only FBS kicker to try a minimum of three, 50+ yard field goals without a miss (50, 52 and school-record 56). His 72 points scored by kicking last season ranked sixth in a season at Memphis. Of his 50 kickoffs, 21 were for touchbacks and only one was booted out of bounds. Memphis had a 39.7 net kicking average.
EIliott's efforts in the classroom earned him University of Memphis Dean's List recognition for both the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. He posted a 4.00 grade point average for the Spring 2014 semester to earn him Tiger Academic 30 recognition. Each semester the student-athletes with the top-30 grade point averages are recognized by the department with the Tiger Academic 30 award.
Other American Athletic Conference place-kickers on the watch list are Marvin Kloss (USF), Shawn Moffitt (UCF) and Carl Salazar (Tulsa).
While the watch list highlights the best returning kickers in the country, Elliott's inclusion as one of the award's semifinalists last year as a rookie, is evident of the Groza Committee's season-long evaluation of kickers. The award also recognizes individual performances throughout the season with its "Stars of the Week" releases.
Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce 20 semifinalists on Nov. 6. From the list, a panel more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members and former Groza finalists select the top three finalists for the award by Nov. 24. That same group then selects the national winner who will be announced Dec. 11 during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live by ESPN from Walt Disney World.
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 Dec. 9 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.
Former Memphis kicker Joey Allison was the first winner of the Groza Award back in 1992.