Quinn Nordin, Jake Moody put best foot forward in battle for Michigan kicking job
Ann Arbor — It’s not one of those position competitions that garners lots of headlines through spring practice and even preseason camp, but no one should sleep on the kicking battle at Michigan.
Maybe it's not as attention getting or compelling as, say, Andrew Stueber and Jalen Mayfield going after the starting job at right tackle for the Wolverines, but Quinn Nordin and Jake Moody are quietly having a tight competition of their own to nail down who will be handling field goals for the Wolverines this fall.
A top kicker coming out of high school with a powerful leg, Nordin redshirted in 2016 before taking over the field goal duties in 2017. He was the kicker last season, too, but struggled, finishing 11-of-16, including a stretch where he made only three of seven attempts.
Moody, a freshman last season who handled kickoffs, took over the place-kicking in the second-to-last regular-season game and kicked flawlessly against Indiana, making all six attempts. He made 10-of-11 in the final three games.
For Chris Partridge, who coaches safeties and is special teams coordinator, watching Nordin and Moody go after the starting job this spring — it won’t be decided until fall —has been a delight.
“Couldn’t ask for better as a coach,” Partridge said Thursday. “Those guys are coming every day, they’re competing and they’re getting after each other. They’re great teammates for each other. The environment is very competitive, and those guys have handled it like A-plus student-athletes. They’re there for each other, they’re coaching each other, and they’re competing against each other. It’s exactly what you want.”
The way Partridge sees it, there’s not drop-off between the two.
“We have two of the best kickers around, I think, and they’re going after each other,” he said. “They’re competing. It’s been really fun to watch.”
They are a contrast in personalities. Nordin is fiery and emotional on the sideline, and Moody is placid, the ice-in-his-veins type. For Nordin, the offseason was about understanding the situation he found himself at the end of the season and determining what's next.
Partridge applauds how Nordin responded to the way the season ended.
“Obviously, it’s not what you want, right?” Partridge said. “It’s not what anyone asks for. But he’s gotten in an adverse situation, he’s looked it in the eyes and he’s come in and competed. He hasn’t backed down from him. He hasn’t (gone) in the tank from it. He’s really matured from it and handled it in a really, really good way.”
Nordin can “overthink” too much on kicks, Partridge said, but how he has matured in the offseason has helped him curb that.
By no means will this competition end when spring practice concludes next week after Saturday’s spring “game” at Michigan Stadium. Partridge said each has missed two or three kicks this spring.
“They’re right equal,” he said. “Quinn’s got a couple deeper ones that he hit. They’re really neck and neck. It’s really tight. There’s no separation at all.”
He’s not ruling out anything this fall, but having both kick, Nordin potentially handling longer kicks, is probably not the option Partridge wants.
“They both have really strong legs,” Partridge said. “I’m not ready to say that. We have to see where it goes. I don’t think we’re going to rule anything out, but I also don’t think we’re gonna commit to anything like that. We’re going to let these guys keep handling it like they’re handling and see where it lies when it gets to late August.”