Tennessee Volunteers kicker Michael Palardy is entering his final season in Knoxville. Since his arrival in 2010, the former St. Thomas-Aquinas standout has done little to live up to the high expectations of being the No. 2 high school kicker in the country, according to Rivals.com.
Tennessee has struggled on special teams for about as long as the team has been stuck in rebuilding mode. After a disappointing tenure from former kicker Daniel Lincoln, the Tennessee faithful hoped for an improvement after the commitment from Palardy, who chose UT over multiple home-state schools also vying for his services.
But he has struggled to shine for the Vols dating back to his first true test against LSU during his freshman season. The Vols lost a controversial game to the heavily favored Tigers 16-14 on the final play of regulation. What many forget about the memorable game was Palardy’s missed 45-yard field-goal attempt, which was a deciding factor in the loss.
While a 45-yard kick is not a guaranteed three points, it seems as though Palardy has never quite recovered since. As a fan, I was optimistic about the hype entering his freshman season.
However, not only has he not lived up to his potential, he hasn’t even been close to being a productive kicker. Since his first missed attempt, he has never capitalized on a game-deciding field goal and has struggling on short attempts and extra points in many instances.
Palardy's statistics may be deceiving, as they don't tell the whole story. Despite a perfect 10-10 from inside 30 yards, he has missed five career extra points. The biggest flaw in his numbers come from beyond the 40 yard mark.
Palardy hasn't connected on a field goal beyond 40 yards since 2011, when he connected on 2-5 from 40-49 yards and 1-2 from 50 or more yards. Last season, Palardy had one attempted field goal from 40-49 yards as the Vols seemed to have less faith in him on long attempts than previous seasons.
2013 will be the final season of Palardy’s career in Knoxville and his last chance to turn around the doubt from a passionate fanbase. The Vols will have three other kickers on their roster entering the upcoming season who will likely compete with the experienced Palardy.
Derrick Brodus has seen time in Palardy’s absence but has also been inconsistent and lacks the range for longer attempts. It will likely be Palardy's job to lose entering the season, and he will have the opportunity to change his legacy for the better.