Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2013 Season Countdown: #15 Matt Wile

Matt Wile
Name: Matt Wile
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 216 lbs.
High school: San Diego (CA) Francis Parker
Position: Kicker/punter
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #45
Last year: I ranked Wile #52 and said he would be the kickoff specialist and a backup punter. He averaged 35.9 yards/punt on 12 punts, with 9 landing inside the 20-yard line. He also was 2/3 on field goals. And he averaged 60.5 yards/kickoff on 77 attempts with 28 touchbacks.

Starting punter Will Hagerup has a yearly tradition of getting himself suspended (including for the entire 2013 season), so Wile has become a jack of all trades. He punts, kicks off, and kicks long field goals. While his punting average looks bad, that's because he was the pooch punter. And as the long-range field goal specialist, he hit a career-long 52-yarder against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Yes, it was a pretty good year for the backup punter. (How often does that previous sentence get uttered throughout history?)

Now Wile looks to be the starting punter with Hagerup out of the picture. And in a very weird situation, he might never be the  starting punter at Michigan, because Hagerup could return in 2014 when both guys would run out of eligibility. Fifth year senior Brendan Gibbons has locked down the short kicking job and did okay on some longer kicks, so perhaps Wile will kick some more field goals this year . . . and perhaps he won't. I hesitated to place Wile this high on the list, but what if he got hurt? Gibbons would likely take on the longer field goal duties as well, Michigan would have to use essentially a third-string punter (perhaps redshirt freshman walk-on Kenny Allen), and they would need to find a new kickoff guy. That's a lot of tinkering and potentially quite a few lost yards in the process. Wile isn't spectacular, but he's a very solid all-around kicker.

Prediction: Starting punter and kickoff specialist; backup placekicker


  1. Good write-up ... as you noted, his position/status is very odd, but he's pretty important to the team, too.

  2. I've heard Kenny Allen is a very good punter. If so, then that would significantly diminish the "what if Wile is no longer the punter" value of the ranking.

  3. Perhaps you should include an additional factor into the calculation of these rankings. Likelihood of injury based on historical trends in the position/player. Yes if he goes down the kicking situation goes south of cheese snip snap....But the odds of a kicker suffering an injury serious enough to take him out for any length of time, I would imagine, is far lower than almost any other position on the football field. My 2 cents, about 5 spots too high

  4. A suggestion for the future of these rankings: Try to factor in the likelihood of injury based on historical trends for the player and position.

    In this case, its true that if Wile goes down, the kicking situation goes south of cheese in a jiffy. But I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, kickers have a significantly lower rate of injury than virtually any other position on the field.

    My opinion, he's about 5 spots too high if this additional factor of injury likelihood comes into play

    1. I don't think likelihood of injury is related to the list, though. It's about how important each of these players is to the team.

  5. What a pain if you're Wile. Hagerup keeps screwing up so he doesn't get his chance to be the man his senior year. How's that affect his draft chances (assuming he has any)?

    1. I don't know how Hagerup is still on the team, at this point. How many times has he been suspended?

      There's a non-zero chance that Hagerup goes the way of Stonum and Wile get's to be the guy his senior year anyways.

    2. Hagerup has been suspended every single year of his career. IIRC, it's been one game, then four games, then the Outback Bowl, then the entire season.

  6. Wile is versatile and a very good all-around kicker with a big leg. If he got hurt, we'd probably miss him on kickoffs most, but using Gibbons there wouldn't be a disaster. On long FG attempts, it might even benefit the offense to go for it more on 4th down and Gibbons showed he can make those occasionally too (though I suspect his attempts and successes would be fewer than Wile). As for punts, punt returns are increasingly rare and Kenny Allen is supposed to be pretty decent. We'd be fine. Michigan is very deep in the kicking department.

    Wile will get his moment in the sun as the primary punter this year and the primary place kicker next year. With his leg, I suspect he'll get a shot at the NFL if he shows consistency over the next too seasons.

  7. Anonymous 10:44 >>> Kickers and punters generally don't get taken in the draft unless they're uncommonly good in college. It's more likely for them to make teams through the free agency route. So, if Wile performs well with his opportunities, he'll get a chance.