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College football's top kickers honored in South Florida

Wyoming's Rothe, Syracuse's Szmyt, LSU's Tracy finalists for Lou Groza Award

Wyoming's Cooper Rothe, Syracuse's Andre Szmyt and LSU's Cole Tyler are the three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.
Wyoming's Cooper Rothe, Syracuse's Andre Szmyt and LSU's Cole Tyler are the three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. (AP/Getty Images)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Three of the nation's top college kickers came together Monday night in South Florida. Instead of kicking field goals, however, they were kicking around humility.

Wyoming's Cooper Rothe, Syracuse's Andre Szmyt and LSU's Cole Tracy are finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.

Here's a glimpse at the three finalists:

Cooper Rothe, Wyoming, junior

Wyoming's Cooper Rothe kicks an extra point during the first half of a game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nov. 24, 2018.
Wyoming's Cooper Rothe kicks an extra point during the first half of a game against New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nov. 24, 2018.

Rothe is the most accurate kicker in college football. He was 16-of-17 this season for an FBS-best 94.1 percentage conversion rate.

Although the Cowboys ranked 120th in scoring, Rothe made the most of his opportunities, converting all 28 extra points.

Rothe has made 97.8 percent of all his attempts (both field goals and extra points) -- the best in the nation.

He is vying to become Wyoming's first Lou Groza Award winner.

"To give back to the school, because of everything they've invested in me, would be huge," Rothe said.

Andre Szmyt, Syracuse, freshman

Syracuse's Andre Szmyt kicks a field goal against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on Nov. 3, 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Syracuse's Andre Szmyt kicks a field goal against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on Nov. 3, 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Szmyt has come a long way from backup walk-on to Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

He was No. 2 on the depth chart in fall camp, earned the job a week before the season opener and was awarded a scholarship after kicking a 54-yard field goal against Pittsburgh on Oct. 6.

"Yeah, it's been surreal," Szmyt said. "I mean, I never expected it coming into the season."

Connecting on 28 of his 32 attempts, Szmyt is the nation's leading field-goal kicker. The freshman set a single-season Atlantic Coast Conference record and finished the regular season having made three more than any other kicker in the country.

Szmyt was a perfect 3-for-3 on kicks from at least 50 yards. His 141 points are the most of any FBS player, regardless of position, in the country.

He's also a perfect 57-of-57 for extra points.

Cole Tracy, LSU, senior

LSU's Cole Tracy kicks the game-winning field goal to defeat Auburn 22-21 as time expired, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Alabama.
LSU's Cole Tracy kicks the game-winning field goal to defeat Auburn 22-21 as time expired, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Alabama.

After winning the 2017 Fred Mitchell Award honoring the top kicker at the FCS, Division II, III and junior college levels, Tracy joined the Tigers this season as a graduate transfer. It seems to have paid off.

Tracy got off to a solid start, going 4-for-4 in LSU's 33-17 win against Miami in the season opener, including a 54-yard field goal that tied the school record.

The highlight of the season was kicking a 54-yard game-winning field goal as time expired in LSU's 22-21 win at Auburn on Sept. 15. He also kicked a 50-yarder in the first of seven overtimes against Texas A&M.

Tracy finished 25-of-29, missing only two kicks from less than 53 yards, and was a perfect 38-of-38 for extra points.

"I just continue to tell myself that kicking's kicking, and it doesn't necessarily matter if you're kicking in Massachusetts in front of 1,000 people or if you're kicking in 'Death Valley,'" the California native said, comparing the atmosphere of the Southeastern Conference to his previous environment at Assumption College.


The winner will be announced Thursday night at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.