They call him a kicker. But he’s not a kicker. He’s a football player. A tough guy. Week after week, he goes out and does his job.
Earlier this month, Aztecs Football Sophomore Kicker extraordinaire John Baron II was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, the first Aztec to do so since J.C. Mejia in 2003. The three finalists for the award will be selected from a panel of more than 100 FBS head coaches, sports information directors, media members, former Groza finalists and current NFL kickers.
The finalists well be announced on Nov. 22 and honored at the 25th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet Dec. 5 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8.
Baron, a Temecula, California native has been near perfect this year, making 14 of 16 field goal attempts and 42-for-44 of PATs. His 84 points are tied with Heisman candidate Donnel Pumphrey for the team lead. Earlier this year he made 10 straight field goals.
Baron is ranked 17th nationally in field goal percentage (.875), while his 8.40 points per game are tied for first among kickers in the Mountain West. His 87.5 field goal percentage is also the third best in SDSU single-season history (min. 10 attempts).
During a press conference several weeks ago following San Diego State’s rout against Utah State in Logan, Utah, Aztecs head coach Rocky Long profusely praised Baron for a school-record four field goals he kicked in the pouring down rain on Saturday that helped SDSU beat Utah State 40-13.
Long called Baron’s effort as good as any on the field that day, comparing it to running back D.J. Pumphrey’s 223 yards rushing.
“What John Baron did was just as amazing,” Long said. “Not only did he make four field goals without a miss, a couple of them were fairly long and the weather conditions were ridiculous. For someone to perform at that level at what he does in that kind of condition is really something special.”
During that game, Utah State scored 13, while Baron scored 16. In the sheets of rain, he made a 43-yard field goal look easy.
Baron helped San Diego State to a 46-16 win over Nevada this past Saturday night, making both field goal attempts (28 and 31 yards) and four PATs. Additionally, he kicked off nine times for 540 yards (60.0 avg.) and a career-high six touchbacks.
The Aztecs (9-1, 6-0 MW), now ranked 24th by Associated Press and 25th in the Amway Coaches Poll, travel to Wyoming for their final road game of the regular season at 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday.