TAMPA — University of South Florida junior PK Marvin Kloss became the football program’s first finalist for a national award Monday when he was named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate place-kicker.
Kloss, Florida State’s Robert Aguayo and Texas’ Anthony Fera will be honored at a Dec. 10 banquet given by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, which sponsors the Groza Award. The winner will be announced Dec. 12 during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk.
Former USF DE George Selvie was the program’s only other player invited to the awards show. In 2007, he was selected as a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America.
“It’s a great honor, but I wouldn’t be in this position without my teammates,” said Kloss, who pointed to his linemen, holder Mattias Ciabatti and long snapper David Burdetsky. “I’d also thank the coaches for having in faith in me to go for some of those longer field goals.”
Kloss is 14-for-18 on field-goal attempts this season. He leads the nation with nine field goals from 40 yards or longer and is 4-for-6 from 50 yards or longer, also a national best. Kloss had made a school-record 13 consecutive field goals, but has missed three of his last four attempts (from 49, 55 and 51 yards).
Aguayo, a freshman, is 80-for-80 on PATs this season, setting a Football Bowl Subdivision record. He is 15-for-16 on field-goal attempts.
Fera, a senior, is 17-for-18 on field-goal attempts for a 94.4 percent conversion rate, the best in Texas’ 121-season football history.
RIVALRY GAME: The Bulls (2-8, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) renew their rivalry with the Central Florida Knights (9-1, 6-0) Friday night in Orlando. USF is 4-0 against UCF in games played from 2005 to 2008.
USF coach Willie Taggart said he “loves the idea of playing them” and showed USF-UCF highlights from previous games to his players on Sunday.
“Just to show them the significance of the game, the importance of the game, how the crowd is going to be, the environment,” Taggart said. “I walk in the offices now and see some students and the first question they ask is, ‘Are you going to beat UCF?’ It’s not about spoiling anything they’ve got going on. I think (USF fans) just want to beat UCF.
“I appreciate that. I enjoy it and I’m looking forward to the game.”
USF always had been lukewarm — at best — about playing UCF. Now there’s no choice. The Bulls and Knights are conference rivals. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said he believes it’s a good game for Thanksgiving weekend, although he acknowledged it might also eventually fit as a season-opener.
“I’ve always wanted this game to be played,” UCF coach George O’Leary said. “I’ve always been a big pusher of playing it each and every year. Now I don’t have to worry about pushing it. They’re in our own conference. Any time you have teams with this type of (geographic) closeness playing each other, I think it’s great for attendance and interest.”
BULLS BITS: USF’s season finale at Rutgers on Dec. 7 was set for ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. … Junior WR Andre Davis, who had five catches for 113 yards and became USF’s first player with three consecutive 100-yard receiving games, was named to the AAC honor roll.