Back in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, all eyes were on Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson as he lined up for a field goal at the end of regulation against Oklahoma State with the score tied at 38 a piece.
The first attempt came from the middle of the field and the 35-yard attempt would have won the game...but it sailed wide left. Then, in overtime, Williamson had a shot at redemption with a 43-yard try, but he missed that as well.
Oklahoma State went on to kick the game winning field goal in overtime to win 38-35, and when an emotional Williamson got to the locker room and pulled out his phone, he had over 100 texts and nearly 2,000 Facebook friend requests (mostly from Oklahoma State fans) along with countless Facebook messages that said everything from "I hope they pull your scholarship" and "I hope you die," to "I hope the team ties you up in the locker room and beats you," in much more colorful language
In the video below, Williamson says that after returning to campus he didn't go to class for two weeks, and opted to stay secluded in his room trying to sleep the day away and later turning to alcohol to numb his pain. When he did eventually venture out of he tried to fly under the radar by not wearing any Stanford gear, for fear of being recognized.
The turning point for him was months down the road, during November of the 2012 regular season against #2 ranked Oregon up in Eugene. After missing a pivotal 42-yard field goal in regulation that would have sent the Cardinal to the Pac-12 title game, Williamson jogged off the field and looked at David Shaw who told him, in the simplest of terms, "You need to grow up and start making those kicks."
Instead of being upset at the straightforward approach from his head coach, Williamson realized he was right, and returned the the field in overtime tied at 14 for another field goal attempt...and nailed this one
This video chronicles the story of Williamson's mindset and journey from lining up for the game winner in that Fiesta Bowl, to the implications it had on his life in the months afterwards, and finally to his return to the field and legendary status after nailing that kick in OT against the Ducks.
It's not just kickers, this is a great reminder that there are players, people, and coaches behind some of the biggest tragedies and triumphs in college football, and sports in general.