Tulane K Cairo Santos Wins 2012 Lou Groza Award

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIDecember 6, 2012

October 13, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave kicker Cairo Santos (19) kicks a field goal to end the first half of a game against the SMU Mustangs at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Tulane kicker Cairo Santos has won the Lou Groza Award as the best kicker in college football for the 2012 season.  

The Lou Groza Award for Best Kicker goes to Tulane's Cairo Santos.

— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) December 7, 2012

Santos beat out fellow finalists Caleb Sturgis from Florida and Dustin Hopkins from Florida State. 

Reliable kickers are rare in college football, but Santos proved to be incredibly valuable to the Green Wave this season and was one of the team's few bright spots. 

Tulane went 2-10 this season, but every time Santos came out to attempt a field goal, he converted. He made all 21 of his attempts including a 57-yarder against Rice. 

Santos was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but attended high school in Florida. He is a junior this season, and although he was productive during his first two years in New Orleans, he has taken an incredible leap forward in 2012.

He missed three filed goals as a freshman and seven as a sophomore. The drop-off was due to more attempts from long distance in his second season, which he did not do well with.

In 2011, he converted on just five of his 11 tries from 40 or more yards. But this year, he sent all 12 of his attempts from this distance sailing through the uprights.

Current NFL kickers Sebastian Janikowski, Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath and Dan Bailey are all past winners of the award, and this honor gives Santos an excellent chance to take the next step in his career.

While being a professional kicker is certainly not a stable job, NFL teams always have room for a reliable player with a big leg, and Santos has proven this season that he has both of those qualities.