"He's got a good sense of confidence. I don't think the game is too big for him or anything like that. He's a very consistent player."
That's what Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told WLBT a decade ago about kicker Stephen Gostkowski. In a league known for quick triggers and journeyman players, the former Madison Central Jaguar is almost automatic.
He's made 38 field goals for the 13 and 3 Patriots. One of those was a 62 yarder in Mexico, the longest kick in the NFL this season. Gostkowski reflected on another record setting boot in November. "You know, with kicking, you could wait your whole career and never get a shot like that," he said. "You have to be very patient. It's a very opportunistic job and you're only as good as the opportunities you get."
SG3 will make his 5th Super Bowl appearance on Sunday. In four previous games on the biggest pigskin stage, he's perfect on field goals and only missed 1 extra point.
Caught up with hall of fame head coach Mike Justice today. I asked him how Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski started kicking at Madison Central. SG3 makes his 5th #SuperBowl appearance on Sunday.— Chris Hudgison (@ChrisHudgison) January 31, 2018
More from Justice tonight 10pm @WLBT pic.twitter.com/hUOs0DCBbg
Stephen was a part of the legendary 1999 Madison Central team. The state champs featured 4 more future NFL players: Parys Haralson, Mike Espy, Chris Spencer, and Doug Buckles. Head coach Mike Justice marvels at the longevity of Gostkowski. I asked him when he first saw Stephen kick.
"We were practicing 1997 or 1998, our high school kicker was struggling. Todd Walker came in and said I got a kicker in 9th grade that's much better than him. I said really? He said yeah. I said tomorrow when y'all finish, just tell him to stay out here and come to the high school and see how he does. And it started. He kicked off into the end zone in 9th grade. It was remarkable. He just drilled it. His junior and senior year he could've started at wideout or a DB, either one on our football team. He's 6'1" or 2", about 190. He was an athlete, he could've started somewhere. But his kicking was too valuable."
So if the Patriots need 3 against the Eagles, look no further than a three-sport Jaguar that just so happens to wear number 3.
Super Bowl LII kicks off Sunday at 5:30pm. You can watch the game on WLBT.
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