CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina placekicker Nick Weiler, whose play this season represents arguably the most significant turnaround in the country, was named a semifinalist for the 2015 Lou Groza Award on Thursday.
The award, which is given annually to the nation’s top placekicker, seemed out of the realm of possibility a season ago for Weiler. As a sophomore in 2014, the Fairfax Station, Va. native connected on 5-of-8 field goal attempts with a long of 23 yards in a season in which he shared kicking duties with Thomas Moore.
Weiler has kicked at a different level this season, converting on 14-of-16 field goal attempts and all 33 of his extra point attempts. He’s made three of his four attempts beyond 45 yards, including a pair of career-long 48-yarders.
“I was always confident,” Weiler said on Larry Fedora’s radio show on Tuesday night. “I knew I could do it. It was just frustrating last year. I’m the toughest critic on myself by far. This offseason, we got together and we started hitting kicks through the spring, through the summer and I think the confidence reached its peak in fall camp. I knew going into South Carolina that we were going to help the team win games this year.”
Weiler leads the team with 75 points after connecting on a career-high four field goals in UNC’s 26-19 win over Pittsburgh last Thursday. He currently leads the ACC in field goal accuracy percentage (87.5).
Casey Barth was the last Tar Heel to be named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2012.
The semifinal list, which contains 20 names, will cut down to three finalists on Nov. 24. The winner will be announced on ESPN’s college football awards show on Dec. 10.