(Note – Photo above – Mike Gillette’s second field goal (34-yards) against Iowa in 1986 was a game winner! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Library at The University of Michigan.)
Mike Gillette arrived in Ann Arbor in 1985. He was determined to be Bo Shembechler’s kicker. Gillette won the starting job and became the first Michigan placekicker to make 16 field goals in one season. Mike led the team in scoring with 78 points on 16 field goals and 30 extra points.
In 1986, Gillette came back ready to do more for the Wolverines. Mike continued to kick and kick well for Michigan during his Sophomore season. He was perfect on his PAT kicks and became the first Wolverine placekicker to kick a 53-yard field goal against Iowa on October 15, 1986. He also kicked the game-winning field goal on the last play of that amazing game to push Michigan (#4) to a win over the (#8) Hawkeyes 20-17. Gillette led Michigan in scoring for the second consecutive season with 59 points (11 field goals and 26 extra points).
The 1987 season was another successful season for Mike Gillette. He made 80 percent of his field goal attempts and made four kicks of over 40-yards. He continued to be a consistent kicker for the Wolverines. Mike lost his “leading scorer” title in 1987 to Jamie Morris who scored 15 touchdowns and racked up 90 points.
Mike Gillette’s senior year was his best season at Michigan. Not only was he the placekicker, but Bo decided to add punting duties too. Bo thought Gillette could handle it all so that’s what happened.
Gillette broke his own record of most field goals made in one season (16) by making 18 kicks in 1988. Mike became the first kicker in Michigan football history to make five field goals in one game on November 8, 1988 in a 22-7 win over Minnesota. He also became the first Michigan placekicker to make a 56-yard field goal and he did it at the Horseshoe in a 34-31 win over the Buckeyes. It doesn’t get any better than that! Mike also set another record before he was done kicking for Michigan. Gillette booted a 49-yard field goal against USC in Michigan’s 22-14 Rose Bowl win in January 1989. It is still the longest field goal in Michigan bowl history. Mike finished his career as an All-Big Ten kicker for the 1988 season.
So, Mike Gillette ended his Michigan career with his head held high. Like all kickers, he didn’t make all of his kicks. Nobody does. He had his “ups” and “downs” as a kicker at Michigan, but he definitely had more “ups!” Bottom line – Mike Gillette’s did his job at a very high level and kicked his way into the record books by the time he left Ann Arbor. He was a key part of two Big Ten Championship teams (1986 and 1988) and helped put 38-wins on the board for Michigan football.
Here are the best ones that connect Mike and Michigan Football:
· Gillette won the starting job and became the first Michigan placekicker to make 16 field goals in one season and broke his own record with 18 successful kicks in 1988.
· First Wolverine placekicker to kick a 53-yard field goal against Iowa on October 15, 1986 and then a 56-yarder against the Buckeyes in 1988!
· Mike became the first kicker in Michigan football history to make five field goals in one game on November 8, 1988 in a 22-7 win over Minnesota
· Mike Gillette was the first Wolverine kicker to make fifty field goals and finished with a program record of 57 in 1988. (Note-Garrett Rivas now holds the record at 64!)
· Gillette was the first Michigan kicker to make 13 field goals of 40-yards or longer in a career (1985-1988). (Garrett Rivas equaled that mark during his career)
· Mike Gillette was the first Michigan placekicker to kick three 50-yard (or longer) field goals from 1985-1988.
· Gillette was the Michigan football player to score over 300 career points (307) from 1985 to 1988.
· Mike Gillette is the first kicker to lead Michigan in scoring for three seasons (1985, 1986 and 1988).
So, today is a good day to remember the accomplishments of Mike Gillette. His name is still all over the record book and some of his accomplishments are still at the top of the list. Mike Gillette is one more reason that Michigan football is the winningest program in college football. Happy Birthday Mike Gillette and Go Blue!
For more information about Mike Gillette, check out the links below.
Oh, by the way, Happy St. Patricks Day everyone!
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