Notre Dame's Kyle Brindza: Spotlight on the Irish Kicker

Emily O'Neill ElmerCorrespondent IINovember 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Kicker Kyle Brindza #27 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish kicks a field goal at the end of the first half against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Notre Dame defeated USC 22-13.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With 23 field goals, including an impressive, career-long 52-yarder last Saturday, kicker #27 Kyle Brindza ends his second season with Notre Dame on a high note, as the Irish go undefeated.

The Michigan native's career as a star kicker may come as a surprise to some, as Brindza was born with club feet, a common deformity in which the feet appear rotated sideways at the ankle. 

"They're turned backwards," Brindza said of his feet. "So when I was born they had to turn it back. And growing up I had to face several surgeries, the latest one I was in sixth grade -- they had to extend my Achilles' tendon in my kicking leg, and in doing so they had to take some muscle out," he told ESPN.

After overcoming early adversity, Brindza distinguished himself at Plymouth High School. Under coach Mike Sawchuk, he set the Michigan state high school record with 19 successful field goals as a senior in 2010 and was rated ninth-best player in Michigan by Detroit Free Press. 

Now in his second year at Notre Dame, Brindza has been responsible for 95 points with an average of 7.5 per game. He has attempted 31 field goals and made 23, breaking the single-season school record, previously held by John Carney with 21 field goals during the 1986 season. Brindza has only missed one extra point this season, attempting 27 and completing 26 for an impressive 96.3 percent success rate.

During Saturday's big game with USC, Brindza was responsible for five field goals and one critical tackle on Marqise Lee. 

"I was a deer in the headlights but I realized I needed to make a tackle for this team," he told the Chicago Tribune of the tackle that ended Lee's 43-yard return. 

As the Irish look ahead to their upcoming BCS championship game, the assistance of their 19-year-old star kicker will be invaluable.