Brendan Gibbons is just one of several feel-good stories associated with the Michigan football team.
The redshirt junior placekicker has made 27 of 33 field goal attempts over the past two seasons, including a career-best 52-yarder this fall. His shining moment came in January's Sugar Bowl when he kicked the game winner over Virginia Tech in overtime.
Things didn't exactly start out on a winning note for Gibbons, who joined the Wolverines as Scout.com's No. 11 placekicking prospect in 2009.
After redshirting his first season, Gibbons appeared to win the kicking job at the outset of 2010. Three misses in his first four attempts saw Gibbons lose his job to walk-on Seth Broekhuizen for basically the remainder of the season.
Needless to say, his confidence took a beating. "I had never really felt that before, you know?" Gibbons told Annarbor.com . "Doing well in high school and coming here, I wasn’t ready for it. It was hard, especially at first."
A pair of breaks went Gibbons' way during the offseason. First, Gibbons was given a fresh start when Brady Hoke was hired as the new Michigan coach. The second occurred while Gibbons battled incoming freshman Matt Wile for the 2011 field goal job.
Wile was forced to take over the punting chores from Will Hagerup who was suspended for the initial four games. Considering the strong-legged Wile was already penciled in for the kickoff duties, three jobs as a true freshman might have been a bit much.
Gibbons had to wait until the third game of the season before he had his first attempt. He made the 21-yarder, then connected on all three tries two weeks later.
His confidence was definitely on the mend.
For the season, Gibbons was 13 of 17 including a crucial 43-yarder in Michigan's 40-34 win over Ohio State, and the dramatic game-winner at the Sugar Bowl.
This season has been a carbon copy of the last, with Gibbons connecting on 14 of 16 including a career-best 52-yarder at Nebraska.
The Outback Bowl is next for Gibbons and the Wolverines. Another game-winning kick would suit him and the entire team, just fine.