Pitt kicker Ben Sauls made strides as a kicker last season and is now a preseason candidate for the Lou Groza Award, given to the best kicker in the country.
Sauls had a stellar 2022, missing only four of his 24 field goals and converting all of his 47 PATs for 107 points, which is the third highest scoring total in a season in Pitt history. He is only one of six Pitt kickers to ever score more than 100 points and he also made 15 of his last 16 field goals on the season.
His best performance arguably came against UCLA in the Sun Bowl, where he made all five field goals and two PATs, including a go-ahead 47-yard field goal with four seconds left in the dramatic 37-35 win. Sauls broke Sun Bowl records with those made field goals and kick scoring with 17 points total.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 30, 2022
He finished second in the ACC and 17th in the nation with 1.54 field goals per game and then third in the ACC and 26th in the nation with 8.2 points per game in 2022. Serving also as the kickoff specialist, he averaged 62.4 yards on 80 kickoffs, which includes 57 touchbacks, 71% of the time.
Sauls primarily worked as the kickoff specialist during the Panthers’ run to the ACC Championship in 2021, averaging 62.3 yards on 104 kickoffs and 44 touchbacks, 42% of the time. He hails from Tipp City, Ohio, north of Dayton, and played for Tippecanoe High School.
He is one of 30 kickers to earn a spot on the Groza Award Watch list and will look to improve even more as a redshirt junior during the 2023 season.
Sauls also joins redshirt seniors in quarterback Phil Jurkovec and offensive lineman Matt Goncalves who both made it onto award watch lists themselves. Jurkovec made the Maxwell Award watch list for the best all-around player and Goncalves made the Outland Trophy watch list for the best interior lineman.