Jim Harbaugh doesn’t find anything unusual about Quinn Nordin.
Michigan’s head coach certainly knows Nordin well — he famously slept over at Nordin’s house while pursuing him throughout a long-winded recruitment.
But to his teammates, Nordin is an enigma.
“Quinn is an outspoken guy,” said sophomore receiver Eddie McDoom. “It’s very funny. When I see kickers I don’t see them as Quinn. Quinn is very — I don’t know how to explain Quinn. Quinn is Quinn.”
Given how Michigan's new starting kicker has taken the world of college football by storm, it’s hard not to believe McDoom.
Nordin was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in three games this year. He’s connected on 11-of-13 attempts this season, tied for the most in the nation, and he’s been hugely important for a Michigan offense that has scored only one touchdown in 10 red zone appearances this year.
The redshirt freshman tied a school record against Air Force this past week by hitting five field goals. Nordin had previously set a program record in the season-opening win over then-No. 17 Florida by kicking two field goals of 50 yards or more. He’s also well on pace to shatter Remy Hamilton’s season record of 25 field goals.
But it takes more than a strong and accurate leg to endear a kicker to a national audience. In Nordin’s case, what sets him apart is his haircut. It’s the same look that Charlie Sheen’s character, nicknamed “Wild Thing,” sported in the popular 1989 film “Major League.” And it caught the attention of many fans who viewed the season opener.
“Ricky Vaughn, the ‘Wild Thing’ (nickname) — I just have a mentality as a closer,” Nordin said after the Florida game. “When the team needs me, just go in there (and execute).”
For his teammates, the hairdo is just more evidence that Nordin — as sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary opined — has more flair than most kickers.
“It’s actually cool,” Gary said. “I like the little swag. Little kicker gotta have something.”
McDoom — who has a unique hairstyle of his own — said Nordin has the demeanor of a skill position player.
“Quinn’s a really good friend,” McDoom said. “Just hanging out with him, I feel like Quinn is not just a normal kicker. In my mind, he’s just like a normal receiver. Mentally, he has that vibe about him, that demeanor.”
Perhaps purposefully, Nordin hasn’t given much public indication of what that unique demeanor is like. When asked about his success and his responsibilities, he’s mostly chosen to answer with platitudes.
“Whatever they call me out to do, I’m going to do to the best of my ability,” Nordin said Saturday night. “If it’s a field goal or PAT, I’m just going to try my hardest and put it through.”
The little details, though, paint a different picture. The haircut, the testimonies of his teammates — and even an old recruiting video during which Nordin commits to Penn State while disembarking a private plane — show that Michigan’s kicker, indeed, does not fit the typical mold for his position.
That certainly wouldn’t be as endearing to fans — and perhaps teammates — if Nordin struggled to make kicks. But that hasn’t been the case.
“Quinn’s a beast,” Gary said. “There’ll be times in practice we go field goal block and he’s booming 60s. 60s. It’s just crazy seeing that. Sometimes I have to look back like, ‘Wow.’ Quinn’s a beast. I’m happy he’s my kicker.”