Weber Named Groza Finalist

On Monday afternoon it was announced that Arizona State kicker Thomas Weber was named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. Joining him are Jose Martinez from UTEP and Austin Starr from Indiana. Devils Digest talked to the humble Sun Devil freshman who said this honor caught him by surprise.

"It's definitely a surprise because it's my first year," said Thomas Weber. "It's a great feeling being a finalist, I'm just overwhelmed."

The first-year player has been anything but overwhelmed handling the team's kicking duties this season. He converted 17 straight field goals, and 19 of 20 overall. He's 6-6 from 40 plus yards including a career-high 53-yard field goal against UCLA a week and half ago. He also had a game winning field goal in a 23-20 road win at Washington State. 11 of his kickoffs have gone for touchbacks and his 65.4 yards per kickoff is a Pac-10 best.

The redshirt freshman credits ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson instilling confidence in him that has helped him through out the season. Sun Devil fans may recall that Weber struggled for the better part of both spring practice and fall camp. In fact, it was just about three months ago where he was engaged in a heated position battle with walk-on kicker Zach Richards. He also credits his mentor for helping him through the tough times.

"Chris Sailer, who has worked with me for three years, and also was a finalist for this award, told me what to do and stay relaxed," Weber noted. "He told me not to be too hard on myself and go into a little hole…I think me struggling at Camp Tontozona factors in. If I haven't worked that hard for the job…it builds up that game pressure."

"That was huge since I haven't played in a game for a while before this season. Being that focused, realizing every kick counts – that really helped me. I don't know if I would get that type of competition in any other school."

While is punting duties aren't a factor in this honor, it is worth noting that Weber also assumed the punting duties in week six and is currently averaging 40.9 yards a punt. He has placed nine punts inside the 20-yard line. "I never thought my punting would ever affect my kicking," he noted. "I've always worked on punting and I was the backup. So I kept working on it. When I started punting the only thing I was worrying about was doing a good job and making sure the team can cover my punts."

The Groza award will be presented at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show, hosted by ESPN's Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit on Thursday Dec. 6th from 7:30-9:30 PM EST. It will originate from the Atlantic Dance Hall at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

This year's event will include the first-ever, live pre-and post highlights and interview show. The Red Carpet Show, hosted by ESPNU's Mike Gleason and Melissa Knowles, will air on ESPNU at 7:00 p.m. and following the show at 9:30 p.m.

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