ATLANTA (ABC4 Sports) – Matt Gay wasn’t even Utah’s starting kicker at the beginning of the season.
Now, he’s the top kicker in the entire nation.
Gay won the Lou Groza Award Thursday night in Atlanta, given to the nation’s top kicker.
Gay becomes Utah’s first Lou Groza Award winner. Louie Sakoda was a finalist in 2008.
Gay leads the nation in most major kicking categories, including field goals made (27), field goals made per game (2.25), 50+ yard field goals (5) and field goals attempted (31). He has made 87-percent of his field goal attempts, which leads the Pac-12 and ranks 11th in the nation.
Gay’s 27 field goals and 31 attempts are new school records, while his 118 points ranks second all-time in a season at Utah. He is the first Utah kicker to make five 50+ field goals in a season.
Gay played soccer at Utah Valley in 2014 and 2016. His only previous football experience came as a high school senior at Orem High School in 2011. He said his best friend Parker Overly, who died from a car accident in April, encouraged him to pursue kicking, and he dedicated this award to him.
“My best friend Parker Overly always pushed me to play football,” Gay said. “Sadly, [eight] months ago, he passed away in a car accident. But he was the one who always pushed me to play football, and I wear his initials on my wrist in every game. So, I’m grateful that he’s with me right now in this award. All the love goes to Parker Overly and his family.
The other finalists for the Lou Groza Award were Utah State’s Dominic Eberle and Auburn’s Daniel Carlson.
Utah punter Mitch Wishowsky was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, but lost to Michael Dickson of Texas. Wishnowsky won the award in 2016.