Western Kentucky football specialists Brayden Narveson and John Haggerty III are included on preseason watch lists, the school announced Wednesday.
Narveson earned a spot on the Lou Groza Award Watch List, while Haggerty was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List. The Hilltoppers were one of 12 programs with both a kicker and a punter honored.
After transferring to WKU in the summer of 2020, Narveson won the starting kicking job during fall camp and didn’t look back, producing one of the most accurate campaigns in WKU’s 102-season program history. The redshirt sophomore transfer made 13-of-14 field-goal attempts and was 27-of-27 on extra-point tries in 2020, scoring 66 total points in 12 games. His 93% field-goal mark tied for third among all FBS kickers and ranked second for a single season all-time in WKU history to Garrett Schwettman’s 15-of-16 (94%) performance in 2015.
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native was one of 20 FBS kickers listed as a Lou Groza Award Semifinalist, the first Hilltopper to do so since Schwettman in 2015. Narveson made 6-of-6 field goals in the 40- to 49-yard range and 5-of-5 from the 30-39 distance, while his 53-yarder on Oct. 3 at Middle Tennessee was the third-longest ever for a Hilltopper. His only miss was a 50-yard try in the first quarter on Nov. 7 at Florida Atlantic, but he did bounce back and make attempts of 32 and 49 yards later in the game against the Owls.
Haggerty followed up the best punting season in WKU’s 102-season program history with the second-best, averaging 45.7 yards on 56 punts in 2020, both of which ranked seventh in FBS. He had at least three punts in all 12 games, including a career-high eight on Nov. 21 vs. FIU. Against the Panthers, his 53.25-yard average was the best-ever for a Hilltopper in a single game (with a minimum of four punts).
Of his 56 punts, 19 were inside the 20 yard line, 20 were 50+ yards, 12 were fair caught and he had only four go into the end zone for touchbacks.
Earlier this month, the Sydney, Australia, native earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team. In the classroom, Haggerty has a perfect 4.0 GPA in his organizational leadership graduate program. He has been on WKU’s President’s List all five semesters and earned the C-USA Academic Medal in each of the past two years.
The Lou Groza Award – presented by the Orange Bowl – is named for the NFL Hall of Fame kicker 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. Although an All-Pro offensive lineman as well, Groza ushered in the notion that there should be a place on an NFL roster for a kicker.
The Augusta Sports Council created the Ray Guy Award in 2000 to honor the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Among the statistics used to identify the winner is net punting average, punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, total yardage punted, average returned yardage and percentage of punts not returned with particular emphasis placed on net punting average. The winner must display team leadership, self-discipline and have a positive impact on the team’s success.