The watch list is comprised of the top 30 preliminary candidates for the 15th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented by the FedEx Orange Bowl. The top three finalists are honored during the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award Banquet and Silent Auction on Tuesday, December 5, 2006, at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott. The winner is announced on Thursday, December 7, 2006 during the ESPN Home Depot College Football Award Show in Orlando, Florida.
Ito is the sixth Rutgers player to be named to a national award watch list entering the 2006 season. The California native led the BIG EAST in field goals per game (1.67) last season and ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (74.1). Ito ranked 12th nationally in field goals per game and was fifth in the conference and 27th nationally in scoring (8.33 pts/g).
Ito, who ranks third in RU history with 35 career field goals, connected on his last 10 field goal attempts of the season in 2005, including a perfect 4-for-4 showing in the Insight Bowl.
Kickers on the Lou Groza Award Watch List were chosen based on statistics from the 2005 season and 2006 preseason expectations. However, all Division I-A kickers are eligible for consideration for the award.
A panel of over 300 experts vote on the award, including Division I-A head coaches, sports writers and sportscasters, conference representatives, professional kickers and all previous Groza Award finalists.
The 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award are announced on Tuesday November 7, 2006, followed with the naming of the three finalists two weeks later on Tuesday, November 21, 2006.
The award, now in its 15th year, is named for National Football League (NFL) Hall-of-Fame kicker Lou Groza, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Groza won four NFL championships with Cleveland and was named NFL Player of the Year in 1954. Nicknamed "The Toe," Groza was one of the first people to truly make kicking an art form, and he helped usher in to football the idea that a player could be used exclusively for kicking.