Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Matt Wile, #45

Matt Wile (#45, image via BCSN)
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Coming out of San Diego (CA) Francis Parker, Wile was a Rivals 2-star kicker. The hometown Aztecs went hard after him under Brady Hoke, and Wile was also pursued by Air Force, Nebraska, and Washington, among others. When Hoke was hired at Michigan, he extended an offer for Wile to play for the Wolverines. After playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he committed to Michigan in late January.

Immediately upon arriving in Ann Arbor, Wile was counted on to be the kickoff specialist. He averaged 64.0 yards/kickoff and also averaged 41.6 yards/punt on 17 attempts. ESPN and the Big Ten Network named him to their freshman all-conference teams. As a sophomore in 2012, he averaged 60.5 yards/kickoff, averaged 35.9 yards/punt, and went 2/3 on field goals with a long of 52 while handling the long field goal attempts. During his junior year in 2013, he averaged 59.8 yards/kickoff and went 3/5 on long field goals; he also became the full-time punter while Will Hagerup served a year-long suspension, and Wile averaged 40.6 yards, landing 16 inside the 20-yard line and booming 10 of them 50+ yards. Then as a senior, he became the full-time kicker and went 15/21 on field goals, made 28/28 extra points, and averaged 63.0 yards/kickoff; with Hagerup's return, Wile punted just once.

- 284 kickoff, 17531 yards, 61.7 yard average, 108 touchbacks
- 20/29 field goals (69.0%), long of 52 yards, 33/33 extra points (100%)
- 91 punts, 3658 yards, 40.2 yard average, 4 touchbacks, 22 fair catches, 29 inside the 20, 15 of 50+ yards, long of 69, 0 attempts blocked

All-Freshman Big Ten (2011), Academic All-Big Ten (2013-2014)

This past season it was hard to believe that Wile was a senior. When he was recruited in 2011, he was the beginning of the trend that Brady Hoke was looking for solid, upstanding citizens who you would want to marry your daughter. As a U.S. Army All-American coming out of high school, there was a feeling that he would have a breakout season or become a weapon at some point in his career. Instead, he was mostly a steady, all-around kicker who always kept himself available. He played in every single game Michigan played for four years, 51 straight. He did not have any extremely memorable moments like his predecessor Brendan Gibbons (who had all-time great kicks against Virginia Tech and Northwestern), but his career didn't have many memorable low points, either.

. . . being there when the other renegade kickers on the team were unavailable. Gibbons allegedly raped a girl and was eventually booted out of the university, leaving Wile to pick up his duties. Meanwhile, Hagerup was suspended for at least one game from 2010-2013, including the entire 2013 season. The guy who stepped in every time to pick up the slack was Wile.

The best part of Wile's game was his kickoff. He was very consistent in either getting touchbacks or pinning the ball near the left pylon, leaving returners with limited space to work. Unfortunately, NFL teams want kickers to be able to do more than kick off. Wile's punting and placekicking are not up to snuff for the next level, so his professional career has probably come to a close.

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