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From being the second ranked high school kicker in the nation; to the bench; to the Twitter hashtag "Palardy like a Rockstar." It's been an up and down career for Tennessee senior kicker Michael Palardy. He finally had his shining moment on Saturday, nailing his first game winning field goal in the Vols 23-21 victory over South Carolina.

The kick was his third field goal of the day. The Coral Springs, Fla. native also played a huge role in the field position battle. Palardy pinned the Gamecocks inside their own 20-yard line six times.

"The biggest thing with me is how confident I was going onto the field on Saturday," Palardy said at Monday's press conference.

That confidence wasn't always there for Palardy. He missed three extra points last season and was replaced by walk-on kicker Derrick Brodus early in the year. The criticism poured in from fans and media.

"I took that criticism and I ran with it. That drove me to make myself better as a person and as a player," Palardy said.

Palardy took his job back midway through the 2012 season and has built his confidence with the help of head coach Butch Jones.

"I would say it's a complete 180, complete opposite ends of the spectrum," Palardy said of his confidence level since the arrival of Jones and his staff.

"I like to apply pressure, I want to have confidence as a coach; he's going out there and has to perform under pressure, I want to make sure that he also has to perform under pressure in practice," Jones said of his senior kicker.

"At the end of practice or even in the middle of practice, he'll yell out over the microphone, game winning field goal," Palardy said.

It's not just Palardy's placekicking that has improved, 16 of his 35 punts this season have pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line.

"We've improved defensively because of him," Jones said. "And offensively we're generating more points because of field position. Field position in the game of football is everything. And he's playing with a lot of confidence. He's been a weapon for us."

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