Tulane's Santos Eyes Another Lou Groza Award
By Dan Harralson
Tulane had a difficult time scoring last season, scoring just 257 total points with an average of 21.4 per game.
However, the Green Wave did manage to score in the kicking game, and that was apparent at the end-of-the-year-awards banquet in Orlando, Fla. Cairo Santos took home the 2012 Lou Groza Award which goes to the nation's top kicker. Santos connected on all 21 field-goal attempts and converted 26-of-27 extra points. He was accountable for 89 of the 257 points.
"It was awesome," Santos told Football.com at the Conference USA media day. "To start the season, my goal was to make hopefully only 80 percent of my field goals. Eighty percent was a good consistent number, but my confidence level built up so much. I hit a streak of 10 field goals, and I just felt like I couldn't miss."
Cairo is a senior for the 2013 season. He is looking to repeat and become only the second kicker to win back-to-back Lou Groza Awards. Florida State's Sebastian Janikowski took home the award in 1998 and 1999. Santos was unfamiliar with the American style of football when he moved to St. Augustine, Fla., as a foreign exchange student. His goal in America was to learn English for a year. The result concluded in him kicking footballs at the high school level ... and being very good at it.
During his time at St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine, Santos connected on 19-of-23 field goals and made 99 out of 100 extra points. Soccer was always his sport while growing up in the mecca of Brazil.
"I played soccer my whole life," he said. "I'm from Brazil. When I was in Florida, some friends convinced me to try out for kicker. It was a small school, so we really didn't have anyone to do it. So I decided to stay two years and graduate and received a scholarship from Tulane."
People view kicking in a dome easier than kicking outdoors in a traditional environment. Santos agrees on one side of it when it comes to kicking inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"With field goals, it helps a lot," he said. "It's a true ball, and the ball doesn't move. With kickoffs, I feel that the Superdome effects my distance. I talked to Caleb Sturgis, (former) kicker for Florida, (who) played there for the Sugar Bowl. He said yeah, the Superdome is not like the Georgia Dome where the ball is supposed to go farther."
Santos will get his first crack at kicking inside the Superdome again Aug. 29. Tulane opens with Jackson State on college football's opening Thursday night.