The Unknown Hero

When Michigan needed the perfect start to a perfect game-winning field goal, coach Lloyd Carr gave the ball to a fifth-year senior, a law student, Joe Sgroi.

The memories of Michigan's game-winning field goal against Washington will forever revolve around Phil Brabbs and John Navarre dancing around in celebration.

But when the game was on the line and coach Lloyd Carr needed perfection, he put the ball in the hands of a Joe Sgroi.

The fifth-year senior long snapper from Plymouth, Mich. quietly took his place and fired a strike to set up one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the Big House.

"With the clock running down and I was standing on the sideline I expected myself to be more nervous going out on the field than I ended up being," Sgroi said. "The only thing that I can remember thinking when I got over the ball was I was surprised at how loud the stadium was when we are kicking a field goal to win the game. It seemed like it should have been dead silent. That is the only thing that I can remember thinking actually."

After the kick, Sgroi's teammates went wild, but he just stood and marveled at the beauty of the kick.

"I looked up right as the ball was going through the uprights," Sgroi said. "I saw it go right through the pipes. It was unbelievable." That one moment made all the sacrifices worthwhile for Sgroi, who is juggling his football duties with classes in the Michigan Law School.

"The first thing that I thought in the locker room after the game was that being part of such an amazing game like that made it worth it to come back," Sgroi said. "It took a while to decide if I would be able to handle both school and football but it was something that I was interested in from day one assuming that I got into the (law) school."

Sgroi took classes this summer to ease his academic workload, and he says that so far it has not been substantially more difficult than his undergraduate work. He loves Ann Arbor and hopes to eventually find a permanent home near campus. But years from now, when people tell tales of the Washington win, no one will remember the soft-spoken, intellectual law student that started the drama — and that's perfectly fine with him.

"Coach (Andy) Moeller said that after the game I was a true offensive lineman because I won't get any recognition from the game," Sgroi said. "That is fine with me. If nobody finds out who I am then I am probably doing my job."

Despite his forgettable place in Michigan history, Sgroi knows what a special opportunity he had.

"You can always take the bar exam over again," he said. "But that snap – you can never duplicate that."


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