For the second consecutive year, the Gophers have one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best kicker.
Last year, Ryan Santosa was one of 10 finalists for this award. Santoso has moved to punter this season, and sophomore Emmit Carpenter has taken over the kicking duties. Santoso was actually named to the Lou Groza Award preseason watch list this year, as it took some time for the news to spread that Minnesota had a new kicker.
Carpenter had never attempted a field goal for the Gophers before this season, but he made nine straight to start the year and is 13-for-15, entering Saturday's game against Purdue. He has five successful kicks from 42 yards or longer.
On Thursday, he was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Groza Award, along with CoSIDA Academic All-District.
At Penn State, Carpenter made a 37-yarder with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Gophers a three-point lead. When Penn State came back to tie it, Carpenter hit a 46-yarder in overtime, only to see Minnesota lose that one on Saquon Barkley's 25-yard touchdown run.
The Gophers needed a 28-yarder from Carpenter with six seconds remaining to pull out their 34-32 victory over Rutgers two weeks ago.
After that kick, Carpenter was quick to credit his holder, Jacob Herbers, snapper, Payton Jordahl, "and of course, the big guys up front."
“One of the big things I have to attribute all this to is the help Ryan Santoso’s offered me," Carpenter said. "With him switching over to punter, he still is always around me kicking, and he has an incredible amount of knowledge, whether it be the technical part of kicking or just the mindset.
"We have some great coaches that are also involved with that. I have a few mentors outside the team as well. I’m still in contact with Peter Mortell. Peter still talks me though some of the mental aspects of the game.”
Note: Carpenter has a 3.58 GPA as a supply chain and operations management major. Gophers defensive tackle Scott Ekpe was also named CoSIDA Academic All-District. Ekpe has a 3.82 GPA in human resource development.