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Dustin Hopkins Just Trying to Stay In the Moment

Dustin Hopkins wants to win a Groza Award.

Of all the players I spoke with on media day, the senior kicker was the only one to just own up to the fact he has his sights set on winning an individual award. 

And you can't blame him, the past two seasons Hopkins has been a Groza finalist but has come up short each time. 2012 is no different, and in his final go-round, Hopkins makes no beefs about it, he would like to take home the hardware. But he also knows that's much easier said than done.

"The standards are awful high, sometimes guys win it who are off the radar and they just have the best year of their life. And that's going to happen," said Hopkins about what he needs to do to win the coveted distinction.

"So I guess just focusing on every single kick rather than the big picture [is key]. Obviously I'm going to have that award in the back of my mind, but that being said if you focus too much on the big picture rather than being in the moment everytime then you're probably not going to be very successful."

Hopkins is confident that if he focuses on making his kicks, is able to adjust well to the new collegiate kickoff rules and just stays in the moment, that everything else will work itself.

"I mean we play at a major D-1 university and we have some great athletes so we feel we're among the top in the country and we're going to try to achieve those goals," said Hopkins. "If we perform our best those will come. That kind of goes back to just being in that moment and if I'm in it every time hopefully it will be for the best."

"But, it would be a lot more rewarding to win a team award than just an individual award, obviously," Hopkins added.

Hopkins isn't cocky about his chances, just confident, and that comes from having kicked at a high level since arriving at Florida State a little over three years ago. Consistency is hard to find in a kicker, but Hopkins is 63 of 82 in three years as the Seminole PK, and he has improved his accuracy each season, finishing last year with an .815 mark.

"From a kicking perspective consistency is harped upon nationwide so it's an honor to have been nominated the past three years," said Hopkins.

But consistency alone is not enough, Hopkins knows he'll also need to have a big year.

"Consistency is important, I think it says a lot, but a common saying kicking is 'you're only as good as your last kick,'" said Hopkins. "So if that's the case if somebody has a breakout year then who am I to say I'm with them, they've obviously set themselves apart."

If Hopkins wants to set himself apart, he may need to start in his own state. The Florida Gators boast a Groza finalist of their own in fifth year senior Caleb Sturgis.

"Yeah, Caleb's a great guy. Really good guy," said Hopkins of the Gator kicker.

The two are competitors and will battle it out for the Groza award and state supremecy this season, but it's not a rivalry born out of animosity.

"[It's a] friendly competition. I think just in the spirit of competition we all want to beat each other. I've got a lot of respect for him [though], he's a really talented guy but he's also a good dude, a good person. So if I'm going to have a counterpart over there, I'm glad it's Caleb."

Both kickers will have a shot to put the final touches on their Groza candidacy in the final week of the season when Florida visits Florida State in their annual rivalry game.

As for Hopkins, he's likely to become the all-time leading scorer at both Florida State and in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, he needs just 68 points to achieve both.

A Groza trophy would be a nice way to wrap up an extremely decorated career, it would also serve as a nice NFL spring board.

But Hopkins isn't letting himself think that far ahead just yet.

"Like a lot of these guys, being in the NFL has been a dream of ours since we've been in fifth grade, so I want that to happen," said Hopkins. 'But it just goes back to living in the moment."

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