Matt Wile to challenge Will Hagerup for Michigan football team's starting punting job
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Punter Will Hagerup began last season with a four-game suspension, but started every game after it for the Michigan football team.
Yet, he struggled wildly with his consistency, and eventually was lifted midway through the Sugar Bowl for then-true freshman Matt Wile. That suggests Hagerup could be pushed for his job when fall camp opens Monday.
Asked about it last week, coach Brady Hoke didn't equivocate.
"There will be competition," he said.
Hagerup, now a junior, had a terrific freshman season for the Wolverines. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt, the second-best clip in school history among players with at least 30 attempts.
Last year, though, his production plummeted.
He averaged just 36.0 yards per punt, 7.6 off his freshman average, and booted just one 50-yarder. He had 10 as a freshman.
Hagerup's worst performance of all came on the biggest stage, when he shanked punts of 24 and 26 yards against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. He was then replaced by Wile, who averaged 43.7 yards on his three attempts.
One traveled 58 yards, 8 yards longer than Hagerup's longest boot of the season.
Wile, who also started at punter while Hagerup was suspended to begin the season, averaged 41.6 yards per punt for the year.
"I think Matt obviously is a guy who has a good leg," said Hoke, who doubles as the team's punt coach.
So, what happened with Hagerup?
"I think it’s more sometimes he wants to hit the ball too hard, instead of just (using) the normal leg motion and -- it’s just like any other position -- keep it within your fundamentals," Hoke said.
Hagerup's consistency improved in the spring, Hoke said, which could ratchet up the competition heading into fall camp.
Wile is expected to retain his job as Michigan's starter on kickoffs, and could also be called upon for long-distance field-goal attempts.