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Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Struggling punter Will Hagerup battling for his job, Michigan coach Brady Hoke says

By Kyle Meinke

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said today that Will Hagerup might lose his spot as the Wolverines' starting punter for the Sugar Bowl.

"No question," Hoke said, when asked if freshman backup Matt Wile was pressing Hagerup for starting duties against Virginia Tech (11-2). "We’ll see who punts in the bowl game."

Michigan will begin implementing its bowl game plan at today's practice, which will be the first of seven in Ann Arbor before the team breaks for Christmas, then reconvenes in New Orleans. Hoke, who is the punting coach, will have a watchful eye over Hagerup and Wile.


Michigan sophomore Will Hagerup, above, is being pushed by freshman Matt Wile for the starting punter duties heading into the Sugar Bowl.

Hagerup was tremendous last year as a freshman, when he averaged 43.6 yards per punt, the second-best clip in school history among those with at least 30 attempts. He's struggled mightily this year, though, since returning from a four-game suspension to begin the season.

He is averaging 36.8 yards per punt, nearly seven yards off last year's mark. His longest is 50 yards, a mark he exceeded 10 times last year, including in seven different games.

Hoke said Hagerup is struggling with "overswinging," for lack of a better word, and consistency.

"I’m going to use an analogy, which probably is really bad, because I don’t golf and I’m really a bad golfer," Hoke said. "When you’re at the longest drive, guys rear up and they want to try to kill it. Well, sometimes, William does that with his punting, instead of having a consistent swing at the ball.

"It’s just consistency, how you set the ball, where your hand is, and the mental imagery of when you do it the right way."

Wile, meantime, averaged 41.1 yards while filling in during Hagerup's four-game suspension and had two 50-yarders -- that is, one more than Hagerup in the following eight games.

Wile's best game was his last outing, when he averaged 49.0 yards on four attempts against San Diego State. In other words, he nearly averaged Hagerup's long for the season.

But Hagerup returned the following week, and Wile hasn't punted since.

That could change against Virginia Tech.

When pressed about the realistic chance Wile would get the nod in the Sugar Bowl, Hoke said, "Yeah, I wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t (serious)."

"Matt’s done a nice job," he added.

Practice schedule

Hoke said the team's first two bowl practices were "high energy, high tempo and we got to do a couple things with the young guys in scrimmage situations."

Now, they'll turn toward intensifying practices and installing the game plan for Virginia Tech.

Hoke said the practices Monday and Tuesday will be intense before backing off on Wednesday. The team will practice seven times before breaking for Christmas.

Players will report to New Orleans on Dec. 28.

Odds and ends

Hoke said he anticipates all players will make the trip to New Orleans, and that the team is "OK" with injuries. ... Hoke said there might be a few "wrinkles" for the bowl game. ... Hoke said playing a high-profile bowl, such as the Sugar Bowl, helps with recruiting. He has been out on the recruiting trail this week while his team was not practicing. ... Hoke said he doesn't think Michigan will seek a sixth year for linebacker Marrell Evans, affirming what he said Monday night at the team's bust.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Mon, Dec 19, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

When you play for the Incredible Hoke, you better excell not DE'CELL. 'It's never how high you climb, It's how high you bounce after you fall' -George S. Patton.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

It's obvious Will has been struggling this year. I can identify with the golfing analogy. Some of my longest, best shots happened when I was relaxed and simply tried to make a smooth, good swing - not kill it. Hopefully, Will will turn things around. I believe he has a lot of potential and will ultimately remain our starter.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:25 a.m.

As fas as the punting duties, I'm really not impressed with Hagerup at all, he seems to be a space cadet in his actions, 2nd year in row getting suspended and missing games under 2 different coaching staffs, that right there is what you call a pattern. The guy better get it together if he wants to stay in Maize and Blue. Wile is impressive and a legacy kid, I like him a lot and it's great that he is only a Freshman and has a great future ahead of him. I wonder what the score would've ended up like if Wile had been punting against ohio and he probably wouldn't have botched that snap and allowed ohio more life in that game, who knows.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 4:18 a.m.

Well I'm not sure if this will get deleted or not, but it was written and reported that Hagerup was taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed. If that is true than Hoke did the right thing, I don't believe something like this is a big deal for us to know or not. Just trying to help, not being a smart aleck.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Luckily, there is a backup punter. Otherwise Hoke might have to have an open tryout!


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

MRunner- Yes that makes sense. keep our secrets or you will be shut out. I can't blame the media- I just wish the University would have an open policy.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:07 a.m.

Kyle, Tremendous usage of the term "tremendous"! I think Brady might use that adjective even more than Lloyd. I like what you did there.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

It's sad that the answer to my question as to what Will Hagerup did to get suspended was deleted. I think the Michigan athletic program and all college athletic programs should have policies of "open disclosure" as to student suspensions and activities which violate the NCAA codes, University codes, and most certainly any local state or federal laws. It would help the students mature and take full accountability for their actions. We have also seen what policies or customs of secrecy do to Universities (Penn State, OSU, Miami, USC). The cover up is always worse than the initial transgression and leads to more transgressions and a sense of being above the standards of the community and in some cases above the law.. The fact that these young men are getting free educations at a school supported by our tax dollars and alumni contributions makes the matter less comprehensible. For individuals and institutions, the more secretive you are the sicker you are.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Folks, please understand that if knows the truth, they really cannot put that out unless they want to be totally shut out of the Michigan Athletic Department. That goes for ALL media; print, radio, TV and dot coms. I know the circumstances in Hagerup's early season suspension but cannot disclose that here in respect to this media's obligations.

Theo's Brother

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 12:08 a.m.

There are no free rides in Hokeland Amusement Park. "Admission" and "tickets" require hard work, consistency, and a love for Michigan. If you fail to comply to admission rules, you will be barred from riding the "rides" and eventually be escorted from the "park." Competition. Motivation. Love it. GO BLUE!


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

Good one that got my seal of approval.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

Matt Wile has been one of my unsung heroes for the 2011 season. In a way, it's a shame he had to burn a possible redshirt year. On the other hand, he handled every kickoff during the year. He became very steady and effective at that as the year wore on. His punting was a pleasant surprise. And it sure was comforting having him as a backup to Gibbons for FGs if needed. Well done, Matt!

Jen Eyer

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Comments that discuss moderation have been moved to the moderation thread, in accordance with our conversation guidelines: <a href=""></a>


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:16 a.m.

Jenn: Which of the guidelines preclude information as to the transgression about a athlete holding a scholarship being suspended from being made public? It certainly is relevant to the topic of this article. He can't be considered a victim- where information would be considered making a presumption of guilt.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

Jen, i can only speak to the comments left on the U of M sports articles but i am very much in favor of the the moderation guidelines. It is much more enjoyable to read poster's comments nowadays, a great improvement over what we have had in the past.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

Hopefully, Will Hargerup can correct his kicking mechanics. If the Brday Hoke staff can restore the confidence of Mr Gibbons in the field goal department, they should be able to help Will correct these issues and restore his confidence. It sounds like Matt Wile is having very good practice sessions for Hoke to even admit this about Will. Keep on plugging, Will.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

correction; Brday to Brady.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Does anyone know why Will Hagerup was suspended for 4 games? I'd take the 4.2 yards from Wile and sit Willie out. But them again I'm always rooting for the kid who doesn't get into trouble over the one who does. I'm just old fashioned that way- maybe because I had to pay for my education.

Terry Star21

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

@ Scott. I answered your question with the true facts. could not handle the truth and deleted it.