Resurgent Michigan football kicker Brendan Gibbons lands on watch list for Lou Groza Award
Two years later, he's one of 30 players to land on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
What a revelation.
Gibbons, now entering his junior year, turned things around last season as he rediscovered his swagger. He said in an interview last year that support from the new coaching staff helped breathe new life into him.
Coach Brady Hoke asserted early in his tenure that Gibbons would be his kicker, and never backed down, despite the ghastly 2010 season.
Result: Gibbons made 13-of-17 attempts, and his 76.5-percent clip was fifth in the Big Ten.
He finished the season on the strongest note of all, converting all three of his kicks in the Sugar Bowl. That included a 39-yarder with 4 minutes left to help force overtime and, after the Wolverines' defense held in the first extra frame, a 37-yarder that secured Michigan's second-ever BCS game win.
That was the first late-game pressure kick of the season for Gibbons, and he drilled it on national TV. As left tackle Taylor Lewan said, Gibbons "went from zero to hero."
Minutes later, he became a national story after his response to a question regarding his thoughts as he lined up the overtime kick.
"Brunette girls," Gibbons said. "Every time we were struggling in kicking, Coach Hoke tells me to think about girls on a beach or brunette girls. So that's what we did, and I made the kick."
Gibbons is solidified as the primary kicker heading into next season, although questions still remain regarding his range. He career-long field goal is only 43 yards, and each of his misses last year came from 40 yards and out.
Hoke said last year then-freshman Matt Wile could handle long-range kicks, although he never did. He could still factor into the equation next year in that role.
Gibbons, for his part, said last year his range extends out to about 55 yards.
He is one of seven Big Ten kickers on the Lou Groza watch list, a group that includes Ohio State's Drew Basil, Michigan State's Dan Conroy, Indiana's Mitch Ewald, Penn State's Anthony Fera, Nebraska's Brett Maher and Iowa's Mike Meyer.