The Lou Groza Award is given out to the best kicker across the entire country. The preseason watch list was announced early yesterday and contains SJSU’s redshirt sophomore Matt Mercurio. There were only two other Mountain West players selected, Nevada’s Brandon Talton and San Diego State’s Matt Araiza.
@btalton111 | @NevadaFootball @matt_araiza | @AztecFB @MattMercuriooo | @SanJoseStateFB pic.twitter.com/LadcNNj2e8— Mountain West (@MountainWest) July 22, 2020
In 2019, Mercurio won the empty placekicker job by proving he had the leg necessary to put points on the board for the Spartans. He played surprisingly well in his first season as the lead kicker, connecting on 20 of 24 fields goals and 37 of 39 extra point attempts. He was automatic on kicks 39 yards and less, making 15 of his attempts. Anything past 40 yards, however, was a bit more difficult as he hit 5 of his 9 field goals. Despite his struggles on deeper kicks, Matt’s play earned him an All-Mountain honorable mention alongside SDSU’s Matt Araiza and behind Nevada’s Brandon Talton.
Mercurio was also a two-time Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week and won two Lou Groza Star of the Week honors for kicking four field goals in the New Mexico and Army West Point victories. He was one of just six placekickers last year to receive two Lou Groza Stars of the Week a season ago.
The Spartans special teamer has the accuracy from under 40 yards that any team would want. If he can work on his over 40 yard game just a tad more he would leave nothing to be questioned. With a season of experience now under his belt, Mercurio should only improve in 2020 and make his case as the best kicker in not only the Mountain West, but the entire country.
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. Mercurio has the ability to make the necessary amount of field goals to put his name on the national map but he will need a great deal of help from his offense in order to do so.
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.