WSU senior Erik Powell is the first Cougars kicker since Andrew Furney in 2011 to be recognized as a Lou Groza Award semifinalist

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Erik Powell, Washington State’s senior kicker, has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced Thursday.

The Lou Groza Award goes to the nation’s best kicker annually, and Powell, a senior from Vancouver, has worked his way onto the semifinalist list in the midst of a huge senior season.

Powell is 14 of 17 on field goals this year, and hit a career-long 56-yard field goal last week in the Cougars’ defeat to Arizona. Powell has already reset her career-best twice this year. His career-long in a game at the start of his senior season was 47 yards, but he hit a 52-yard field goal at Oregon this season, then converted a second 52-yarder against Cal.

The Cougars’ kicker began the season 3-for-3 on field goals before missing a 25-yarder against Oregon State. He’s since made. It marks a drastic turnaround from Powell’s infamous 0-for-4 start last season, when he did not make a field goal till the fifth game of the year against UCLA.

Powell, who handles field goals and kickoffs for WSU, has earned Pac-12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week twice in 2017, once after hitting three field goals including the go-ahead 32-yarder in the win over No. 5 USC and again after the win over Oregon, when he connected on four field goal attempts.

Powell enters Saturday’s Senior Day game against No. 18 Stanford third in the Pac-12 with 14 made field goals, while his 78 total points are second-most in the league.¬†Powell is¬†third in WSU history with 289 career points as a kicker, and fourth with 45 career field goals.

Powell is the first WSU kicker since Andrew Furney in 2011 to be named a Groza Award semifinalist.

Three Groza Award finalists will be announced on Nov. 21 and honored at the 26th annual Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards Banquet on Dec. 4 in Palm Beach County. The winner will be announced live on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 7.