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Friday, March 23, 2012
Michigan punters in competition

By Michael Rothstein

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It was a competition that continued throughout Michigan’s 2011 season.

Will Hagerup won the punting job then was suspended for four games, so Matt Wile took over. Wile did OK. Hagerup came back. Won the job again.

Matt Wile
Matt Wile will battle Will Hagerup for the starting job at punter.
Struggled but managed to hang on to the job every week. Finally lost the job during the Allstate Sugar Bowl, in favor of Wile.

While punting and kicking are fickle, there is no question Michigan isn’t settled at punter yet. Both candidates have big legs and have had varying levels of success, but neither has established himself.

“It is one that will be competitive,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “Both guys are very capable and the consistency we need to have, from whoever that guy is, is going to be an important part.”

Wile punted in the first four games of the season and reclaimed the job in the middle of the Sugar Bowl, kicking 17 times with an average of 41.6 yards and landing four inside the 20-yard line.

Hagerup, who punted for Michigan in the 2010 season until he was suspended for a violation of team rules before the regular season finale against Ohio State, punted throughout the Big Ten season in 2011 and started the Sugar Bowl as the punter.

After muffing two punts for an average of 25 yards in the bowl game, he was pulled for Wile.

In his two seasons, however, had has punted 62 times for a 40 yard average, putting 16 of those punts inside the 20-yard line.

So while this competition may not have the every day interest of what happens on Michigan’s offensive or defensive lines, it is going to be equally critical to any success the Wolverines have next season.