Ball State Specialists up for National Awards

Ball State has been called Specialist U. by people for a while and two current Cardinals are looking to the storied tradition.

Brad Maynard, Reggie Hodges, John Diettrich – all three spent some time in the National Football League. Chris Miller, Brian Jackson, Kenny Stucker - their names are synonymous with collegiate kicking excellence.

There is no doubt that the tradition of skilled specialists at Ball State is rich. Just the names listed above are enough are more than most programs can muster – all were solid, efficient and note worth at positions that are oftentimes overlooked and disregarded.

Enter in two more figures that will find themselves added to the list of Cardinal kicking greats – Scott Kovanda and Steven Schott. Both are 5th year senior and both find themselves as semifinalists for the top national awards at their positions.

Kovanda, who has been a constant, field position changing cog in the Ball State attack since his redshirt Freshman campaign is one of 10 semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award. Schott, who has become an ice-water veined kicker, is one of the 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award.

The Ray Guy Award - named after football's premier punter - honors the nation's best collegiate punter. The Augusta Sports Council created the award in 2000.

This marks the second straight season Kovanda has been named a semifinalist for the award. A Ball State team captain, he has helped the Cardinals rank fourth in the nation in punt return defense. Of his 35 punts this season, only four have been returned for a 1.5 average, and he has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 22 times.

Kovanda has punted 35 times for 1,442 yards and a 41.2 average. He has 217 career punts for 8,931 career punt yards and a 41.2 career average. Kovanda ranks fourth in Ball State history in career punt yardage, fourth in career punts and third in career average.

The Ray Guy Award winner is selected by a national voting body of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches, sports information directors, national media and former Ray Guy Award winners. Punters are evaluated on their overall statistics and contribution to the team. Particular emphasis is place on the following statistics: net average, percentage of total punts inside the 20-yard line and percentage of punts not returned.

Schott ranks second in the nation with 2.22 field goals made per game, and is tied for 15th in the county in scoring with 10.33 points per contest. He has made 20 field goals in 2012, which ranks second on Ball State's single-season chart. Schott needs six field goals to set the school's single-season record and pass Diettrich, who made 25 field goals in 1985.

The Palm Beach County Sports Commission released the names of the 20 semifinalists. Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, collegiate media relations directors, past Groza winners and regional and national football writers will select three finalists. The finalists will be announced Nov. 19, and honored at the 21st annual Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Awards Banquet Dec. 4, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Schott connected on a career long 52-yard field goal in the first quarter vs. Eastern Michigan in the season opener and made a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter of Ball State's win at Indiana. Schott made a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cardinals a 41-39 victory at Indiana.

Ball State is 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals host Ohio Nov. 14, and complete the regular season at Miami University Nov. 23.

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