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Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

Resurgent Michigan football kicker Brendan Gibbons lands on watch list for Lou Groza Award

By Kyle Meinke

Thumbnail image for BRENDAN-GIBBONS-OT.JPG

Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons drills an overtime kick that gave the Wolverines a 23-20 win against Virginia Tech in last season's Sugar Bowl. Melanie Maxwell |

Brendan Gibbons converted 1-of-5 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2010, which helped lead the Michigan football team to a last-place finish in placekicking -- nationally.

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.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

Kudos to Coach Hoke, who understood that Brendon Gibbons had the talent all along-- he just needed some positive reinforcement and good coaching to bring it out. Go Blue!

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

'He said in an interview last year that support from the new coaching staff helped breathe new life into him (Gibbons)". I can't say anything more about Gibbon's, his teammates and future Michigan football. Probably the last coach looking in the parking lot for a kicker to replace Gibbon's a bit too much - you think ? MgoBlueForTiM.......In Hoke we Trust.


Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

I remember those discouraging comments from the previous coaching staff that undermined Gibbons' confidence and hurt his game. The previous head coach also said something to the effect that he would try to find a kicker along the side of the road on the way to one of their games and have tryouts for kicker from within the student body. For kickers, the game is just as much mental as it is physical and having a coaching staff that believes in you and encourages you makes all the difference in the world and Gibbons is living proof of that.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 9:08 p.m.

With the season he had in 2010, there probably were some people in the parking lot who could kick better. If he was thinking about brunettes in 2011, I wonder what he was thinking about in 2010....


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

I'm happy for Gibbons, another kid as a freshman was on the mighty Michigan fans' poop list for not meeting their unrealistic expectations. But now, with talent, experience, coaching and brunette girls, he's on the Lou Groza watch list.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Maybe the refs will be a little more aware of kickers' false starting this season after Gibbons performance in the bowl game last year....

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

This kind of reminds me of a time when Bo had a kicker who, well, couldn't kick. At least not so hot in his first year. Folks kept asking him when he was planning to get a different kicker, and Bo said he already had one, and he would be one of the best. Many shuddered and surmised that Bo had finally flipped out. Well, Bo was right. The kid's name was Ali Haji-Sheikh, and he kicked the heck out of that ball. Guess Bo new football. I think Brady does, too.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

What a coaching job by Hoke. Keep thinking of those brunets.