The Lou Groza Award is given out to the best kicker across the entire country. The preseason watch list was announced earlier today and included SDSU’s redshirt sophomore Matt Araiza. There were only two other Mountain West players selected, Nevada’s Brandon Talton and San Jose State’s Matt Mercurio.
The Aztecs place-kicker was stellar in his first season of collegiate play, nailing a program leading 22 of 26 fields goals all 28 of his extra point attempts. He was one of just five FBS kickers to make at least one field goal in every game played. His play garnered him an All-Mountain honorable mention, behind only Brandon Talton of Nevada.
He also notched a MW special teams player of the week on September 9th against UCLA where he made 3 of 4 fields goals, 2 of 2 PATs, and had 5 touchbacks on 6 kickoffs. On top of his place kicking, he also held the team’s kickoff duties a season ago and with punter Brandon Heicklen graduating, Araiza will be punting for SDSU as well in 2020.
Matt has the leg to reach nearly every kick within 50 yards and already possesses above-average accuracy. His punting ability has yet to be seen at San Diego State but he was stout at the high school level and with a bigger leg now, he should be just fine. With a season of experience now under his belt, Araiza will presumably take the next step in 2020 and lock down special teams for the Aztecs.
Since its the award was first handed out in 1992, no Mountain West player has ever received the Groza Award. Last year’s winner was Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship who made 27 of 33 field goal attempts and 46 of 46 extra points. Araiza has his work cut out for him and will need the offense to get him in favorable positions in order to have a real chance at hoisting the trophy in 2020.
The Lou Groza Collegiate Award will be trimmed down to 20 semifinalists on November 5th and the top three finalists will be released on November 24th. The national winner will be announced on December 10th during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.