Special teams players are a lot like attorneys—they aren't appreciated until you really need one. Kickers and punters are treated like outcasts by fans, but having an elite kicker can determine how the season turns out. How many games have been decided by the outcome of a field goal?
The Ray Guy Award is presented each year to the top punter in college football. Since two-time winner Ryan Allen is now in the NFL, another punter will have a chance to win it this year. Augusta Sports Council has released the watch list, which includes 25 punters from across the country.
The Lou Groza Award has been awarded to the best kicker since 1992. Tulane's Cairo Santos has a chance to win the award for a second consecutive season. There will be plenty of competition with 10 semifinalists returning this season. The watch list for the Lou Groza is full of experienced kickers.
Almost anybody can win this award, it's just a matter of who gets hot. However, much of the competition comes from players who play on mediocre teams.
Chris Boswell made 23 of his 29 field-goal attempts last season and 45 of his 47 extra-point attempts. He also has one of the stronger legs in the country, making six field goals of at least 50 yards. His longest was 57 yards.
Boswell has made at least 79.3 percent of his kicks over the last two seasons and is one of the most valuable players for Rice. He handles the punting, place kicking and kickoff duties.
Chandler Catanzaro led the ACC last season with a 94.7 field-goal percentage. He made 18 of his 19 attempts, which includes making five of his six attempts beyond 40 yards. Catanzaro has been one of the more accurate kickers throughout his entire career and usually gets a decent amount of attempts, as he plays for a high-scoring offense.
Clemson is once again in good hands on special teams.
Ross Martin was a big part of Duke's success last season. He made 20 of 23 field-goal attempts and only missed one extra point out of 47 attempts. Keep in mind that he was only a freshman, too.
Martin finished third in the ACC with an 87 percent field-goal percentage and converted on both of his 50-yard attempts.
Martin is another ACC kicker you should be watching.
There isn't a better kicker in the country than Cairo Santos. Last season, he became the second Tulane kicker to win the Lou Groza Award and is hoping to join Sebastian Janikowski as one of the only two kickers to win the award twice. Santos was a perfect 21 of 21 on his field-goal attempts and 26 of 27 attempting extra points.
Santos was one of the few bright spots for Tulane.
Richie Leone finished seventh in the country last season with an average of 45.50 yards per punt. His longest was a 77-yard punt against Louisiana Tech, and he topped 250 punting yards in five games. It is safe to say that Leone has a strong leg and is a valuable weapon to Houston's field position.
Tommy Hibbard averaged 43.04 yards per punt last season, which was good for second in the ACC and 25th in the country. He had 14 punts of 50 yards or more and managed to pin 19 of his 50 attempts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Hibbard was a second-team All-ACC selection.
The play made in the video should make Kirby Van Der Kamp the coolest punter on the Ray Guy Award watch list. Besides running over a defender to move the chains, he also averaged 41 yards per punt and dropped 29 of his 77 attempts inside the 20-yard line.
Van Der Kamp had 10 punts of 50 yards or more and is a key contributor to an Iowa State team that struggles to score.
Kyle Christy is hoping to join Chas Henry as the second Gator to win the Ray Guy Award. He has a great chance. Christy was named a finalist for the award last season after leading the SEC with an average of 45.80 yards per punt. He had a punt of at least 50 yards in 10 of 13 games and pinned 27 of his 66 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Christy is an elite punter and should be considered the favorite for the award.