Michigan football: Wolverines K Jake Moody is the greatest unsung hero of Harbaugh era
Jim Harbaugh has had some of the all-time bests to stroll through the Michigan football program.
We all know the names, such as Rashan Gary and Jabrill Peppers, or Aidan Hutchinson and Devin Bush, Jr. — and there are several more, with current running back Blake Corum and quarterback JJ McCarthy to eventually join that esteemed group.
But let’s talk about a player who hasn’t received enough attention: Jake Moody, the Wolverines’ kicker and No. 3 scorer in the nation (99 points). Among kickers, Moody leads the country in scoring.
The surefooted senior is tied for the 4th-most point-after connections in program history, a perfect 130-for-130.
Other than Kenny Allen, who was the best Harbaugh-era kicker (99-99 PATs) until Moody boomed onto the scene, Moody is the only kicker in Michigan’s career top 10 to have a perfect PAT track record. Seemingly unbothered and incredibly steady during his moments, Moody has earned a reputation as one of most consistent players to play for Harbaugh.
No wonder he’s been coined “Money Moody” by some fans and media.
“He won the Lou Groza for a reason [in 2021],” Allen said during a recent conversation. “He’s been clutch for them and is easily one of the greatest [kickers in UM history].”
With a mark of 80.8 percent (59-for-73) on field goals, Moody has the 3rd best make-average of any kicker to play at Michigan and has the fourth-longest field goal in program history at 54 yards.
He finally cooled off Saturday against Rutgers, going 1-for-3, but only because Harbaugh ask him twice to try from 50 yards in less than ideal conditions Saturday evening in New Jersey.
The previous Saturday, Moody almost single-handedly disposed of Michigan State, nailing 5 of 5 field goals — with 2 XP — during a 29-7 rivalry win in Ann Arbor. The prior game, he went 4-for-4 during a blowout of Penn State.
On the season, he’s 19-of-24, with 3 of the 5 misses from 50+ yards. He’s as close to automatic as it gets from inside of 40 yards: 34-of-35 since the start of last season and 48-of-53 since his college career began in 2018.
Michigan’s red zone offense has sputtered this season. Moody has been the glue. Without the veteran boot, the Wolverines wouldn’t be among the highest-scoring teams in the nation. With 307 career points, he’s on track possibly to become the leading scorer in program history. He trails only Garrett Rivas, who had 354 points from 2003-06.
The Wolverines have pretty much walked over everyone in their wins the past 2 years, but they know that they can count on Moody’s right foot during a close game.
A former walk-on, Moody could have chosen a full-ride to Central Michigan, but the lifelong UM fan picked the more difficult road.
“The coaches told me there were a lot of things that needed to happen for me to be put on scholarship this fall,” Moody said back in 2018, when he was notified that he would be put on scholarship, “so I was expecting to get it in the winter. As time went on, all the things that needed to happen were happening.
“Once the spot opened up, they gave it to me.”
In 2018, Moody went 6-for-6 vs. Indiana, notching a single-game record at Michigan. At that moment, it was clear that the Wolverines’ special teams had a special weapon.
Yeah, everyone likes to talk about the high-flying offensive pieces on the Wolverines’ roster. It’s easy to highlight the defensive savants that have made their way through Harbaugh’s Michigan since 2015. But Moody certainly deserves more attention. If his numbers were directly translated to another team, he’d easily be a candidate for program MVP.
But since he’s at Michigan, he’s just a really good kicker surrounded by position players who’ll be getting paid on Sundays.
Well, throw Moody in that group. He will be an NFL kicker. In most draft-expert circles, he’s ranked among the top 3 kickers.
Since his days as a walk-on, to his current status as one of the top legs in the game, Moody has always embraced program culture and has never been afraid to get dirty while earning a few stripes.
He may have knocked a stripe off a helmet during this play a few weeks ago vs. Penn State.
Jake Moody’s not in the mood today pic.twitter.com/exFABSzEL7
— Maize n Brew (@MaizenBrew) October 15, 2022
“That’s my first hit at Michigan. I’ve been looking for one my whole career. I had a couple missed ones back when I was a freshman, I was about 175 pounds back then, but now I’m close to 215,” Moody said on the In the Trenches postgame show, per Maize N Brew. “I can lay the wood. I ran in there and I popped him pretty good.”
Heroes don’t always rush for a score, or throw or catch a clutch touchdown. Some split uprights on the regular. Some of them break hearts with their right foot. Jake Moody, while respected by media and fans, deserves a lot more credit for what he’s done during the past 4 years at Michigan.