Michigan football team finds a natural fit in kicking recruit Matt Wile
Until Brady Hoke arrived in Ann Arbor, high school kicker Matt Wile hadn’t considered playing for the Wolverines.
On the surface, that wouldn’t be unusual for a kid from San Diego. But in many ways, Wile was destined to attend the University of Michigan.
His great-great grandfather attended medical school at the university, and upon completion of his residency, worked as a professor here. He’s buried in Ann Arbor’s Forest Hill Cemetery - a few steps down from legendary Michigan football coach Fielding Yost.
His great-grandfather attended medical school at the university. His grandfather attended medical school at Michigan too. So did Wile’s dad, who now is an orthopedic surgeon in San Diego.
“Talk about a Michigan man,” said John Morrison, Wile’s high school football coach at the Francis Parker School. “He’s as close as possible.”
Wile has given a verbal commitment to Hoke and will officially become a fifth-generation Michigan student upon signing a binding letter of intent Wednesday on national signing day.
“My dad tried not too much to push me toward Michigan, but he definitely liked the sound of it,” said Wile, who was offered a scholarship by Hoke three days after his hiring.
“Now that I’ve made the decision, I’m really excited to come out in June and start practicing with the team.”
He’ll get a chance, perhaps more than any other member of the 2011 class, to make an immediate contribution. Michigan’s kickers went a combined 4-for-14 in the 2010 season.
Then-coach Rich Rodriguez grew so desperate at one point early in the season that he held open tryouts for the general student body to audition potential kickers.
Wile hopes to provide a consistent leg. At Francis Parker, he connected on 10 of 13 attempts his senior season, including one from a career-long 49 yards.
As a sophomore and junior, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder helped Frances Parker win sectional championships. His team reached the sectional final his senior season.
He did more than kick. Wile played linebacker and defensive end for the Lancers, and was a USA Army all-American as a punter, averaging 42 yards per punt, according to his coach.
“He’s just a great, great kid,” Morrison said.
Wile, a three-sport athlete who also plays soccer and lacrosse, picked Michigan over Air Force and Nebraska. He already had a strong relationship with Hoke during his time at San Diego State - his dad has been a long-time surgical consultant for the Aztecs.
(In fact, as a kid, Matt and his dad accompanied San Diego State to Ann Arbor and watched the Wolverines’ eke out a 24-21 victory from the sideline. At halftime, he kicked field goals at the Big House).
But Wile’s priorities in picking a college were two-fold: He wanted a good relationship with coaches and, more importantly, a school with a strong academic program.
“Those were the two main things, but thirdly, I wanted a good football program,” he said. “It would be fun not to lose, and Michigan has very strong potential to go to BCS bowls, if not win a national championship.”
His oldest sister graduated from NYU’s business school and works for Merrill Lynch. He’s got another sister whose about to graduate with a business degree from USC.
In a departure from family tradition, Wile intends to follow in his sisters’ footsteps and pursue a degree in business or engineering - and not go to medical school like four generations before him.
“What I would really like to do is double major,” he said. “But that might be ridiculously hard.”
Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.