|San Diego kicker Matt Wile|
Matt Wile, a 6'2", 210 lb. kicker from San Diego, CA, committed to Michigan on Saturday. Wile is a 2-star recruit to Rivals and ESPN but unranked to Scout. He also holds offers from Air Force, Nebraska, San Diego State, and Washington.
Originally recruited by Brady Hoke's staff when they were at San Diego State, Hoke honored the scholarship offer when he got the job at Michigan. Wile is the fifth kicker in the history of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl to choose Michigan, making Michigan the most frequent destination for USAAB kickers. The other four have been Garrett Rivas, Zoltan Mesko, Brendan Gibbons, and Will Hagerup. And when Wile enrolls later this year, he will be a fifth-generation Michigan Wolverine.
As a junior, Wile went 9-for-12 on field goals with a long of 48. He also kicked the ball into the endzone 89% of the time. In his senior season, he finished 10-for-13 with a long of 49 and a touchback percentage of 91%. He also played linebacker for his high school team, and you can see some of his tackling/blocking talents in the video below.
Michigan kickers (the aforementioned Brendan Gibbons, who is on scholarship; and walk-on Seth Broekhuizen) combined for a 4-for-14 season in 2010. Rich Rodriguez successfully recruited a kicker in the 2011 class, convincing Matt Goudis to flip from Boise State; however, Goudis obviously makes a habit of indecision, since he changed his commitment to Miami a couple weeks later. New coach Brady Hoke obviously still saw a need for another kicker, which is why he's also committing a third scholarship to a specialist. All three scholarship kickers on Michigan's roster are USAAB alumni, but it's somewhat rare that a school has to commit three free rides to specialists.
I know very little about kicking, so I won't pretend to have much criticism here. What I do know is that Michigan's field goal accuracy in 2010 (29%) paled in comparison to Wile's over the past couple seasons (76%). If giving out a third scholarship to a kicker means that Michigan can attempt more field goals - and make a higher percentage of them - then I'm okay with it. You can't just throw a crappy kicker out there, cross your fingers, close your eyes, and hope. Wile's presence will either spur Brendan Gibbons (whose work ethic has been questioned) to fight for his job or give Wile a shot to kick as a true freshman.
Punter Will Hagerup took over the kickoff duties late in the season, and he did a better job than either Gibbons or Broekhuizen. Even though Wile averaged over 41 yards per punt as a high schooler, Hagerup's job as punter probably won't be challenged.
What should Michigan fans expect? Wile has been practicing kicking off the ground for a couple seasons, so the transition to college shouldn't be extremely difficult for him. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wile kicking field goals in 2011. Gibbons couldn't beat out some mediocre kickers as a true freshman in 2009 and redshirted. In 2010 he sat most of the time and watched another walk-on beat him out. It's not a stretch to imagine that Gibbons will once again be watching from the sideline this coming season.