Punter Dalton Botts and placekicker Jake Wieclaw, both of whom excelled as first-time starters with the Hurricanes in 2011, were named to national watch lists at their respective positions on Wednesday. Botts was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List, while Wieclaw earned placement on the Lou Groza Award Watch List.
The Ray Guy Award honors the nation’s top collegiate punter, while the Lou Groza Award is presented to the nation’s top placekicker. Both accolades are coordinated by the National Football Awards Association.
Botts, who served as the Hurricanes’ punter in all 12 games last season as a junior, finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punt average at 42.7 yards per punt. He booted a season-long 62-yarder in the season finale against Boston College and had one of his best games against then-No. 17 Ohio State with an average of 47.8 yards on four attempts. Originally from Taft, Calif., he had only three touchbacks in 48 attempts, with 11 kicks inside the 20 and 11 punts of at least 50 yards.
The Ray Guy Award was created by the Augusta Sports Council in 2000 to honor Thomson, Ga., native and College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Ray Guy. The award winner is determined by a national voting body of sports writers, college coaches, sports information directors and past Ray Guy Award winners. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, number of times a punt is downed or kicked out of bounds inside the opponents 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline, and have a positive impact on the team’s success. The Watch List includes 25 punters.
Wieclaw, a rising senior, converted on 11-of-14 field goals and all 29 extra point attempts in his first season as the starting placekicker to merit status as a Lou Groza Award Semifinalist in 2011. He did not miss a kick until the Hurricanes’ seventh game of the year and was named Special Teams MVP. The New Lenox, Ill., native nailed a game-winning field goal as time expired to defeat USF on the road, while successfully connecting on a season-long 43-yard boot in a victory at North Carolina. Wieclaw, who also handled kickoffs, limited opponents to an 18.6 yard kick return average for the year.
The 30 kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List, presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, were chosen based on statistics from the 2011 season and 2012 expectations. 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 he was 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.
Semifinalists for both awards will be named later in the season, with the winners announced on December 6 during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Award Show live from Orlando, Florida. Click here for more information on the Ray Guy Award and here for further material on the Lou Groza Award.
Associate AD for Communications & Marketing | University of Miami