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Jake Moody leaves Ann Arbor as the best kicker in Michigan history

The senior left a mark on the program that may never be replicated.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Very few players leave Ann Arbor as the best Michigan player of all time at their given position. In fairness, there are 143 years to consider with numerous All-Americans in the mix. Sure, the hyperbolic takes will rain in for sentimental favorites, but most of the time that is recency bias, or the myopic expressed appreciation for a historic one-season run. Aidan Hutchinson comes to mind.

Hutch had one one the greatest single seasons for a Michigan pass rusher, but does his entire career stack up against Brandon Graham or LaMarr Woodley? Even with an outstanding season in 2023, does Blake Corum usurp the likes of Mike Hart, Tyrone Wheatley, Chris Perry, Anthony Thomas and Jame Morris to be unanimously considered the best Michigan running back of all-time? Highly unlikely.

However, Jake Moody leaves Ann Arbor as the best kicker in program history and a true Michigan Wolverines legend.

‘Money’ Moody set Michigan records for career field goals made, attempts and points, and single-season records for field goals made, attempts and points. Moody holds the single-game record for made field goals (6) is also tied at second (5) and has four different entries tied at third (4). Not to mention he also made the longest kick in program history against TCU from 59 yards out in the College Football Playoff.

Moody is sixth all-time in Big Ten history in made field goals and eighth in scoring. He is the highest non-running back scorer in the history of the conference.

In 2021, Moody became the first kicker in program history to win the Bakken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year, and the first to win the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation’s top kicker. He was named first team All-Big Ten twice, and was a consensus first team All-American in 2021 and a second team All-American in 2022.

Not bad for a guy who was only the out-right starter for two of his five years in maize and blue.

Back in 2018, Moody was the best kicker in the state of Michigan and decided to stay close to home. Moody was second on the depth chart beyond highly touted starter Quinn Nordin, but relished his opportunity to be the primary kick-off specialist. But by November, with Nordin continuing to struggle, head coach Jim Harbaugh turned to his young freshman to take over against Indiana.

Moody proceeded to go 6-of-6 on field goals against the Hoosiers and set a program single-game record for makes. He retained the starting job the rest of the season and finished 10-for-11 on field goals, with his only miss coming from what would have been a career-long 52 yards against Florida in the Peach Bowl.

In 2019, a preseason kicker battle was expected, but Harbaugh opted for the rarely seen two-kicker rotational approach between Moody and Nordin. It didn’t work.

They both struggled with consistency and neither seemed confident when they took the field. The situation worsened when the approach trickled into 2020 and neither kicker made more than 40% of their kicks in the shortened six-game season.

Fortunately for Harbaugh, the Wolverines and the fans, Nordin’s tenure ended after 2020 and the job solely belonged to Moody. The last two seasons were the winningest two-year stretch in the history of the program but without Moody at the heart of it, everything could have fallen apart.

Without Moody, Michigan loses to Nebraska in 2021 and Illinois in 2022. The Cornhuskers gave Michigan their best shot in Lincoln and if it weren’t for Moody’s four field goals — including the tie-breaking kick in the final few minutes to secure the 32-29 victory — the dream season could have quickly become a nightmare.

Against the Illini this year, Moody again went 4-for-4 on field goals —all coming in the second half, and three of them in the fourth quarter— despite unpredictable windy conditions throughout the game. His last field goal in this game became the one that would define him.

With Michigan trailing by one with nine seconds remaining, Moody drilled the first game-winner of his career from 35 yards out, preserving Michigan’s undefeated season.

After the Illinois game, Harabugh offered praise and a nomination: “That’s why he’s the Groza winner, right? Legend. I’ve been watching Michigan football since I was a kid –pretty, pretty decent historian of Michigan football, and I am nominating him for legendary status.”

Fans agree with Harbaugh — Jake Moody leaves Ann Arbor as the best kicker in Michigan history and a true legend of the fall.