First he committed to Boise State: “They were my first offer in my junior year, and it’s not typical for a kicker to get offered in his junior season,” Matt Goudis said, “so I kind of fell for them early.”
Then he opted for Michigan: “Once a bunch of other schools started recruiting me, my parents were telling me, ‘Go to a school where if you get hurt the first day you’ll be at a good academic school,’ … so that’s where Michigan came in.”
But Hurricanes redshirt freshman kicker/punter Goudis, who grew up through grade school in Boca Raton, believes his final decision was his best.
“Once [former Michigan coach] Rich Rodriguez left it was sort of up in the air,” Goudis said. “The last month of recruiting I was anywhere from Cal to Nebraska to Miami, and then ultimately Miami with Coach [Al] Golden, the weather, and I had family down here. So it was the perfect fit.”
Goudis is competing with placekicker Jake Wieclaw to start at punter Saturday for UM (3-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) against conference foe North Carolina State (3-1, 0-0), while usual punter Dalton Botts recuperates from a sprained ankle.
Besides the one kickoff he had Sept. 15 against Bethune-Cookman, Goudis’ first high-pressure action occurred after Botts, averaging 41.4 yards a punt, was injured Saturday while tackling Georgia Tech returner Jamal Golden with 6:12 left in the half.
Botts, who watched practice from the sideline Monday, has a boot on his right foot and was using one crutch to get around.
Goudis, 6-0 and 175 pounds, came in the game for one punt Saturday in the third quarter — a 37-yard line drive that was returned 28 yards to the Tech 40.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Goudis said. “Obviously, it didn’t go as I would have liked it to. I didn’t feel nervous as I expected I would. Some people were saying, ‘What happened? Were you nervous?’ I just mishit the ball really.”
Golden did not approve, Goudis said. “He was obviously not too pleased, but [Monday] I had a better practice, and he came out and said that was the way to attack it. He said, ‘As long as you learn from it … there’s nothing to be ashamed of.’ ”
Added Wieclaw, who missed his first field goal of the season Saturday — a 22-yarder: “Once he cooled off a little bit, I just let him know everything is all right and he’ll be fine.”
Wieclaw, a fifth-year senior, said that the last time he punted in a game was in high school.
UM’s kicking personnel has been altered in the past couple weeks. Botts, the holder for field goals, was replaced by backup quarterback Ryan Williams. And Sean McNally, the usual snapper, was injured against Bethune-Cookman and is out the rest of the season. His replacement is walk-on Paul Kelly.
Goudis is from West Hills, Calif., in Los Angeles. He graduated from Chaminade-Madonna College Prep and was rated by Rivals.com as the 13th best prep kicker in the nation. Known primarily for his placekicking, his longest field goal in high school was 54 yards.
He averaged 40 yards a punt in high school and converted 12 of 14 fake-punt attempts.
“It was definitely fun to extend drives in high school and get first downs,” Goudis said, adding that he is the fastest kicker at UM with a 4.65-second 40-yard dash.
An accounting major, he lived in Boca Raton from kindergarten to sixth grade. His sister attends UF. His mother, Monica, is one of 13 children whose “whole family” is from Palm Beach County. His father, Richard, is the chief operating officer of Herbalife, which describes itself as “a global nutrition and weight management company.”
He said he likes being a Hurricane and “couldn’t think of having a different coach other than someone with [Golden’s] qualities.
“It’s beautiful here and a great school.”