College football's best punters and kickers for 2013, according to watch lists

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Specialists gotta get theirs, too. Tulane's Cairo Santos is the favorite to repeat as the Lou Groza Award winner for the nation's best kicker, but the field is wide open for the Ray Guy Award for the nation's best punter.

Stop ignoring special teams. It's critical to have a kicker capable of nailing field goals when a drive stalls and tacking on extra points instead of shanking them, and a punter capable of pinning opponents deep instead of allowing big returns. College football's best specialists have the opportunity to get their shine on thanks to the Lou Groza Award and the Ray Guy Award, meant to honor the nation's best placekicker and punter, respectively.

Here are the official preseason watch lists for each of those awards:

Lou Groza

Chris Boswell - Rice
Kyle Brindza - Notre Dame
Jeff Budzien - Northwestern
Chandler Catanzaro - Clemson
Brian Davis - Arkansas State
Jeremiah Detmer - Toledo
Nick Diaz - Utah State
Mitch Ewald - Indiana
Nate Freese - Boston College
Andrew Furney - Washington State
Brendan Gibbons - Michigan
Warren Harvey - East Carolina
Michael Hunnicutt - Oklahoma
Cody Journell - Virginia Tech
Ty Long - UAB
Austin Lopez - San Jose State
Ross Martin - Duke
Mike Meyer - Iowa
Tony Miliano - Cincinnati
Dylan Mulder - Eastern Michigan
Jaden Oberkrom - TCU
Cody Parkey - Auburn
Kaleb Patterson - Miami (OH)
Jared Roberts - Colorado State
Trevor Romaine - Oregon State
Cairo Santos - Tulane
Will Scott - Troy
Mathew Sims - Northern Illinois
Carey Spear - Vanderbilt
John Wallace - Louisville

Ray Guy

Steven Clark (Sr.), Auburn
Pat O'Donnell (Gr.), Miami (Fla.)
Darragh O'Neill (Jr.), Colorado
Will Monday (So.), Duke
Trent Tignor (Sr.), East Carolina
Kyle Christy (Jr.), Florida
Richie Leone (Sr.), Houston
Justin Duvernois (Jr.), Illinois
Kirby Van Der Kamp (Sr.), Iowa State
Anthony Melchiori (So.), Kent State
Landon Foster (So.), Kentucky
Tyler Williams (So.), Marshall
Colter Johnson (Sr.), Massachusetts
Tom Hornsey (Sr.), Memphis
Mike Sadler (Jr.), Michigan State
Ben Skaer (Sr.), New Mexico
Cayle Chapman-Brown (Sr.), New Mexico State
Thomas Hibbard (Jr.), North Carolina
Keith Kostol (Jr.), Oregon State
Cody Webster (Sr.), Purdue
Harrison Waid (Sr.), San Jose State
Mike Loftus (Jr.), SMU
Ethan Perry (So.), TCU
Hunter Mullins (Jr.), UAB
Michael Bowlin (Sr.), Washington State

The Groza award, founded in 1992 and named after the Ohio State legend nicknamed "The Toe," has an incumbent who serves as a pretty strong favorite. Cairo Santos of Tulane hit all 21 field goals he attempted last year, becoming only the second kicker ever to take 20 or more field goals and not miss any. And they weren't chippies, either, with him htting a 54-yarder and a 57-yarder.

However, I've gone on record saying that this is not Santos' trophy to win. This award can and should be awarded to Northwestern's Jeff Budzien, who only missed one of his 20 field goals, a 53-yarder in the last minute of a one-point loss to Nebraska that went a few feet wide despite having the distance. While Santos is kicking in the no-wind, artificial turf environment of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Budzien is walloping figgies in Evanston, Illinois, minutes north of a city whose primary nickname is derived from how freakin' windy it is, and he's doing it on live grass. We gotta award points for difficulty here. And Santos had an extra point blocked, while Budzien was perfect. The #BUDZIEN4GROZA campaign is real, and I will not rest until Budzien gets his.

The Guy award, founded in 2000 and named after the Southern Mississippi great, presented itself to the same punter in back-to-back years for the first time since its inception. Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen was the consensus best punter in the country, even for Brad Wing fans like myself, taking the 2011 and 2012 trophies while earning unanimous all-American honors last season. Although Allen and Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda each won the award twice, Sepulveda in non-consecutive years, no other school has ever produced two winners.

This year could see that trend broken, as Florida's Kyle Christy was SB Nation's preseason all-American at punter, and the Gators' Chas Henry took the award before the first of Allen's two victories.

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