Keeping Score

C-USA Top 5: Gostkowski leads league's best special teamers

In ranking the top special teams players in Conference USA's 20-year history, you could easily make the list 10 deep.

However, this is the C-USA Top 5 and we're sticking with the five best special teams players over the last two decades.

Former Memphis kicker Stephen Gostkowski never won a Lou Groza Award, but the Madison native tops this list for what he did in college and how he's proven himself as one of the NFL's best kickers over the last decade. The Groza doesn't always go to the nation's best kicker (Consider Danny Hrapmann for Southern Miss in 2010).

Here are your top five special teams players in C-USA history:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (Memphis, 2002-05): C-USA's all-time leading scorer with 369 career points, the former Madison Central star was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2006 to replace kicking legend Adam Vinatieri, and he's done just that. Gostkowski has made 85.6 of his NFL field goal attempts, eclipsing Vinatieri. He made 70 of 92 tries at Memphis.

2. Joe Burnett (UCF, 2005-08): The speedy Burnett was named All-C-USA as a punt returner in all four seasons at UCF. Burnett had three punt returns for touchdowns and two kickoff returns for touchdowns. As a senior, he was named first-team All-C-USA as a cornerback, punt returner and kick returner.

3. Eric Booth (Southern Miss, 1994-97): The Bassfield native led the nation in kickoff returns in 1997 with an average of 34.8 yards per return and scored two touchdowns. Booth finished his career with an average of 32.43 yards on kickoff returns, the second-best in FBS history.

4. Seth Marler (Tulane, 1999-02): He ranks second behind Gostkowski in most field goals made by a C-USA kicker with 66. Marler won the Lou Groza Award in 2001 after making 15-of-16 field goal attempts. 

5. Cairo Santos (Tulane, 2010-13): He registered a rare perfect season for a kicker in 2012, making 21-of-21 tries to win the Lou Groza Award.

Just missed: Cincinnati kicker Jonathan Ruffin, Southern Miss kicker Danny Hrapmann, Rice kicker Chris Boswell, SMU punter Thomas Morstead, Southern Miss kick returner Tracy Lampley, TCU kicker Nick Browne, Tulsa kick returner Damaris Johnson, East Carolina kick returner Chris Johnson, Southern Miss kick returner John Eubanks, UCF kick returner Quincy McDuffie and UAB kicker Ty Long.

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