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Published: Thursday, 12/30/2010

UM kicking situation unsettled

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Seth Broekhuizen or Brendan Gibbons?

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday, three days before his team plays in the Gator Bowl, that he's unsure which of his two redshirt freshman kickers will get the first opportunity against Mississippi State.

Week to week this season, Rodriguez has declined to commit to either player because neither has proved reliable in his opportunities. But during practices, Rodriguez has regularly said Broekhuizen, a walk-on, has clearly outperformed Gibbons, a high school All-American. However, for Broekhuizen (3-for-9) the success realized Monday through Friday has yet to materialize on game day.

"I just have to relax a little more and trust God's got me in his hands," Broekhuizen said.

It was that same spiritual faith that nudged Broekhuizen to Michigan two years ago. An all-Michigan soccer player at Holland Christian, Broekhuizen picked up football as a second fall sport his senior year and helped the school to a state championship. When it came to choosing a college, Broekhuizen deliberated between a handful of Division I soccer scholarship offers. In the end, he made a tough, and to some, a surprising choice. He said good-bye to soccer altogether and decided to play football at Michigan.

"I was playing too much [soccer], and I wasn't having fun with it," he said. "I believe [football's] where God was leading me."

Rodriguez said the choice between Broekhuizen and Gibbons, who handled extra point duties the last two games, will be made based on numerous variables, such as the distance of the field goal and which hash mark the ball is spotted.

Rodriguez said Wednesday he has suggested his kickers speak with a sports psychologist to help overcome any mental hurdles. For Broekhuizen, his main issue admittedly is related to nerves.

"There's quite a bit of pressure in practice too, but you don't have 113,000 people watching," he said. "It's more of a mental thing for me where I just have to kind of forget about it and zone it out and relax."

ODOMS WILL PLAY: Earlier this week, receiver Martavious Odoms said his availability would be a game time decision. Wednesday, Rodriguez said Odoms, who suffered what was initially ruled a season ending foot injury against Michigan State, will play.

"It's been really good news," Rodriguez said. "He's been able to do everything down here, not only in the offense but in the return game."

PATIENCE: Dylan Esterline, a freshman tight end from Blissfield, is realistic in his expectations for playing time at Michigan. A walk-on, Esterline is redshirting this year and has increased his weight to 245 pounds from the 210 he weighed at the end of his senior year.

"You just have to play the waiting game," he said. "You have to take your time getting on the field. You can't expect to just come in and start."

MULLEN-BG: MSU coach Dan Mullen spoke fondly Wednesday of the two seasons he spent as Bowling Green's quarterbacks coach (2001-02) under head coach Urban Meyer.

"I was blessed Urban gave me the opportunity for my first full-time coaching job there," Mullen said. "Made a lot of mistakes there. I think [former BG quarterback] Josh Harris would come out here and say, boy, you've calmed down so much. You used to yell and scream at me, and you used different words every day."

TRIBUTE: On Saturday, MSU quarterback Chris Relf will wear No. 36, the same jersey number worn by freshman teammate Nick Bell, who died Nov. 2 from cancer.



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