BC's Freese, UMass' Johnson on watch lists

Though both Boston College and UMass struggled in 2012, it wasn’t all bad for the Eagles and Minutemen. Amidst the wreckage were some standout performances, ones capable of giving hope to beleaguered fan bases.

Two of those performances got a couple of specialists some recognition on Wednesday, as Nate Freese and Colter Johnson were named to the watch lists for the Lou Groza and Ray Guy awards, respectively.

Freese, a rising senior for BC, was one of the most accurate field goal kickers in the country, finishing 18-for-20 on field goals (.900). He enters 2013 tied for third nationally in field goals per game, at 1.4.

Johnson, a rising senior for UMass, led the MAC in punting average at 43.6 yards per kick. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder had 66 punts for 2,880 yards as the Minutemen went 1-11 in their debut season in the FBS.

Freese is one of 30 kickers, including four from the ACC, on the Groza award watch list; Johnson is one of 25 punters on the Guy award watch list.

And while their production in 2012 got them this far, it’s a safe bet that both would trade some of their individual opportunities for more team wins in 2013.