|Matt Wile (#45)|
Weight: 219 lbs.
High school: San Diego (CA) Francis Parker
Jersey number: #46
Last year: I ranked Wile #15 and said he would be the kickoff specialist, punter, and backup placekicker. He kicked off 76 times for 4,545 yards (59.8 yards/kick) and 37 touchbacks. He punted 61 times for 2,476 yards (40.6 yards/punt). He was 3/5 on field goals and 5/5 on extra points.
Wile was put in an interesting position a few years ago when Brady Hoke got him to commit to Michigan out of the San Diego area. Michigan had been dealing with some atrocious placekicking, which apparently warranted giving a third specialist a scholarship (in addition to punter Will Hagerup and placekicker Brendan Gibbons, both of whom were young players then). The foresight by Hoke was impressive. As a placekicker, Wile made three field goal attempts in 2012 and five in 2013; he replaced Gibbons at the end of the 2013 season when Gibbons was kicked off the team for some bad behavior. Meanwhile, Wile has been a frequent contributor as a punter, what with "starter" Hagerup constantly getting into trouble of his own. Hagerup faced a year-long suspension in 2013, which allowed Wile to be the full-time punter last year.
This year Wile's duties have been whittled down to placekicking. Hagerup is back for a fifth year to punt (provided he stays out of trouble) and walk-on Kenny Allen will be handling kickoffs. Meanwhile, Gibbons is gone, and nobody but Wile has attempted a field goal in college. Overall, Wile is 5/8 (62.5%) on field goals with longs of 52, 49, and 48 yards to his credit, and he's 5/5 on extra points. Even when Gibbons wasn't in trouble, Wile served as the long field goal kicker, which makes that mediocre percentage a little more palatable. Michigan figures to be a strong defensive team this year with some tough games, so a lot may ride on the ability of Wile to get the pigskin over the crossbar.
Prediction: Starting placekicker