Utah State sophomore Dominik Eberle has been named a semifinalist for the 2017 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the Orange Bowl, it was announced Thursday by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
Eberle is one of 20 semifinalists, including three from the Mountain West and two from the Beehive State, to land on the list. Only three of the players on the list have earned the honor in previous years, including Auburn’s Daniel Carlson, a finalist for the Groza in 2015 and 2016.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Eberle is joined on the list by fellow Mountain West placekickers Wyatt Bryan of Colorado State and Bryce Crawford of San Jose State. Utah’s Matt Gay is also a semifinalist for the award.
Eberle currently leads the nation in field goal percentage (.933). He also ranks second in the Mountain West and 25th in the nation in field goals made (1.56 pg), and he is fifth in the conference and 46th in the nation in scoring (8.2 ppg).
The native of Nuremberg, Germany, is 14-of-15 on field goal attempts this year, and that 93.3 percentage ranks first all-time in school history for a single season, topping Russ Moody, who made 86.7 percent of his field goals in 1988, as he was 13-of-15.
Eberle’s only miss this season was a 38-yard attempt that was blocked by BYU on Sept. 29. His 14 made field goals rank tied for the ninth-most in a single season in school history with Dane Kidman (2002), Brad Bohn (2000) and Doug Beach (1990).
For his career, Eberle is now 17-of-20 on field goal attempts, and that 85.0 percentage ranks first all-time in school history, topping Moody, who made 84.6 percent of his field goals (22-of-26).
Through the first nine games of the season, Eberle is 5-of-5 on field goal attempts of at least 40 yards, including a career-long 52-yard kick. The last Aggie kicker to make at least five field goals of 40-plus yards in a single season was Nick Diaz in 2012 when he was 5-of-7. Furthermore, Bohn was the last USU kicker to make more than five from that distance, when he was 6-of-10 from 40-plus yards back in 2000.
In the Aggies’ 61-10 win at SJSU on Sept. 24, Eberle set the single-game school record for points by a kicker with 19, as he was 7-of-7 on extra points and 4-for-4 on field goals (23, 52, 20, 27). Those 19 points were also the second-most in Mountain West history by a kicker and the most by a non-senior.
A panel of more than 100 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, sports information directors, media members, former Groza finalists and current NFL kickers will vote to select three finalists.
The finalists will be announced on Nov. 21, and then honored at the 26th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on Dec. 4, in Palm Beach County, Florida. The same panel then selects the winner, who will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 7.
The award is named for NFL 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.
Since the first Lou Groza Award was handed out in 1992, 25 finalists, including 14 winners, have gone on to appear in the NFL, earning nine trips to the Pro Bowl and taking home five Super Bowls.
Eberle and the Aggies (4-5, 2-3 MW) are back in action this weekend when they hit the road to take on New Mexico (3-5, 1-4) on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 3:30 p.m., in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The game will be televised regionally on AT&T SportsNet with Drew Goodman (play-by-play), Sed Bonner (analyst) and Brad Thompson (reporter) on the call. Live audio of the game is available at online.
Doug Hoffman is the associate athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.