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Posted on Sat, Dec 12, 2009 : 6:39 p.m.

Punting duties in good hands with Michigan football recruit Will Hagerup

By Dave Birkett

There’s a good chance Michigan will start at least one true freshman when it opens the 2010 football season against UConn - punter Will Hagerup.

With no other scholarship punters on the roster, Hagerup, a senior at Whitefish Bay (Wisc.) High School, is the favorite to replace Ray Guy Award finalist Zoltan Mesko next year.

It’s a daunting task - Mesko, a four-year starter, averaged a school-record 44.5 yards per punt this year - but one Hagerup is up for.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous about it,” Hagerup said Saturday. “But I think in a good way. And once I get over that kind of first couple punts I think I’ll be more comfortable with it.

“I’m so excited and just I’m going to do everything I can to personally be successful and also be on a team that’s going to do some really good things.”

Ranked the No. 3 kicker in the country by, Hagerup said Mesko, his host on his official visit, was a big reason he verbally committed to Michigan over scholarship offers from Florida, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

“He’s a really good example for me because obviously he’s a punter and he’s pretty much where I would like to be,” Hagerup said. “I think it’s a pretty tall order to set just because he’s so successful.

“He’s really been successful, obviously on the field, but probably more so off the field. Just kind of seeing something that Michigan has produced in Zoltan made me see what I could maybe be in 4 or 5 years.”

Whitefish Bay coach Jim Tietjen said Hagerup, whose brother Chris punts for Indiana, is among the most dedicated players he’s ever coached.

Last year on Christmas Eve, Hagerup and his father spent part of the day punting on Whitefish Bay’s turf field, and often times this year Will used his lunch hour to work on technique.

“He gets after it that way,” Tietjen said. “He’s legitimately 6-(foot)-4, between 210, 215 (pounds). He’s a physical specimen. And he’s the second one in the line. He and his folks learned the drill with Chris, and then Will came along and is even farther along.”

Will said he gave up soccer and started kicking as a sophomore in high school after seeing his brother’s success. He became Whitefish Bay’s regular punter as a junior, and this year he earned all-state honors as a punter and all-conference honors as a tight end.

Next month, Hagerup wlll play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“The coaches that came through and looked at him said that nobody in the country hits the ball like Will,” Tietjen said. “When Will hits it, it sounds like a cannon. Last time I heard something like that was Reggie Roby.”

Tietjen and Roby, the Big Ten’s career punting leader and a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL, crossed paths one day nearly 3 decades ago when Tietjen, then the coach at Mukwonago (Wisc.) High, visited Iowa for a spring practice.

As Tietjen was standing near midfield talking to then-Iowa defensive line coach Dan McCarney, Roby launched a punt a few yards away.

“I thought someone fired a gun," Tietjen said. "And the next time I heard a noise like that was Will hitting one one day.

“Michigan’s getting a heck of a player.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 10:11 a.m.

He will be fine.


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 3:45 p.m.

Hopefully, we don't see too much of his leg next year...that would be nice.


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 3:51 p.m.

Maize&Believe, You get your facts straight, RR called the play. HOWEVER, he didn't call specifically a punt, he called a play that left it in the hands of Mesko. Both are to blame but RR is the coach, the playcaller, and the one who should've realized that even considering that was stupid.


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 2:45 p.m.

well Tru2Blue they went away for a little while.. but i agree w/ you congrats to will and i wish him the best of luck and i hope he works out for us.. oh and tom hagan if your referring to the mesko fake against state i think it was... HE RAN IT HIMSELF! richrod didn't even call the play. they made that public after the game so get your facts right or shut up.. same for you guns4me it seems like all you do is complain.. just support ur team and hope for the best. GO BLUE!!


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 2:11 p.m.

Tate Forcier can punt!!! As for at least 1 true freshman starting...I have a feeling their will be some more in that secondary


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 12:33 p.m.

With that size, no doubt that Rich Rod will have him running fake punts inside their own 5 yard line in rivalry games (or what used to be rivalry games before Rich Rod got to town). It will be interesting how this staff ruins this kid too.


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 11:25 a.m.

Make that 4. In a game of field position, that gun sound is important no matter what the trolls say.


Sun, Dec 13, 2009 : 10:45 a.m.

3 and out,God knows u need a good punter.