Michigan evaluating kickers, punters during spring football practice
Quietly, Michigan had one of the most dependable kicking games in the Big Ten last year. Placekicker Jason Olesnavage was a dependable 11-for-15 on field-goal attempts, and punter Zoltan Mesko was a Ray Guy Award finalist.
Both are gone now, as is kickoff specialist Bryan Wright, and the Wolverines are auditioning replacements this spring.
“There is some concern because we haven’t had anybody that’s really done it in a game,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “This is going to be a big spring, but we have some talent there and we have some talent coming in the fall so I’m anxious to see how that shakes out this spring. I think there’s several guys that can do the job.”
First on that list is Will Hagerup, a true freshman punter from Wisconsin who’s expected to take over for Mesko. Hagerup won’t be on campus until the summer, and Michigan doesn’t have any other punters listed on its roster.
Courtesy of U-M
At kicker, redshirt freshman Brendan Gibbons is the favorite to win the job, but he was expected to start last year, too, only to get beat out in camp by Olesnavage.
Michigan has three other walk-on kickers on its spring roster, Seth Broekhuizen, Kris Pauloski and Scott Schrimsher. All were on Michigan’s roster last year.
“There’s going to be a lot of evaluating going on with those guys,” Rodriguez said. “We have a few walk-ons in the program, Brendan Gibbons is a scholarship guy that redshirted last year, it’s going to be a big spring for him. We have a lot of question marks there.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.