|This is Will Hagerup’s crowning achievement: getting his picture taken with Erin Andrews.|
Name: Will Hagerup
Weight: 225 lbs.
High school: Whitefish Bay High School in Milwaukee, WI
Jersey number: #43
Last year: I ranked Hagerup #15 and said he would be the starting punter. He started at punter in 10 games and had 33 punts for 1,440 yards (43.64 yards/punt). He also was the kickoff specialist in 5 games and had 2 touchbacks.
Hagerup came in last season and immediately took over the starting punter role after Zoltan Mesko had graduated. Hagerup had an excellent first season, finishing with the second-best yards-per-punt average in Michigan football history. Michigan fans quickly forgot about Mesko and hopped on the Hagerup bandwagon, even though his name isn’t quite as cool and he’s clearly not as smart as Mesko.
Why do I say that? Well, Hagerup will begin his sophomore season watching from the sidelines now that he’s been suspended for a second time in his two-year career. He served a one-game suspension for the Ohio State game last November due to breaking team rules, and a separate incident has caused him to be suspended for the first four games of 2011 (Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, and San Diego State). That leaves Michigan with the somewhat scary proposition of starting freshman placekicker Matt Wile (who averaged 41 yards a punt in the Army All American Bowl) or redshirt sophomore walk-on placekicker Seth Broekhuizen (who averaged 28.7 yards a punt in three chances last season). Of Hagerup’s first 17 chances to kick a football in front of millions of people, he’ll only be available for 12 of them because he can’t follow team rules.
Hagerup was the Big Ten’s fourth-best punter last season, and the top three guys (MSU’s Aaron Bates, Illinois’ Anthony Santella, and Iowa’s Ryan Donahue) all graduated. When he returns for the last two-thirds of the season, he has a good chance to be the Big Ten’s best punter. Last season 30% of his punts went 50+ yards and 33% of them were pinned inside the 20-yard line. Those numbers will almost certainly drop significantly in the first four weeks while Broekhuizen and Wile battle to replace him. How much that affects the team remains to be seen, since two of the four games should be easy wins, one moderately difficult, and the Notre Dame game a toss-up. But at this rate, Hagerup is turning into a punter’s version of Stephen Garcia, and that’s not a good thing. Regardless, when Hagerup returns to action for the Minnesota game and beyond, he ought to be the best punter in the conference.
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