Weber State punter Blake O’Neill is transferring to Michigan. He has spent just one year playing American football and will be eligible as a fifth year senior graduate transfer in 2015.
As technically a redshirt junior in 2014, he punted 62 times for 2,737 yards (44.1 yards/punt). He had a career long of 74 yards, landed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line, and kicked 18 punts more than 50 yards. That punting average was #6 in the Football Championship Subdivision and #1 all-time at Weber State. Standing 6’2″ and 215 lbs., he ran a fake punt 20 yards and completed a 17-yard pass on another fake punt against Montana State.
O’Neill brings an array of punting talents to Michigan. He can deaden the ball near the goal line, punt directionally, boom it deep, and generally limit return yardage. The nice thing about punting is that it translates well from one level or team to the next, so regardless of whether he’s playing at Weber State or in the Big House, his kicks are going to travel a long way if that’s what he wants.
Michigan has had good punters for a while, including Zoltan Mesko and Will Hagerup in recent years. Unfortunately, Hagerup was inconsistent at times and even missed the entire 2013 season due to suspension. However, punt coverage was spotty last year, which should improve with the arrival of O’Neill as well as full-time special teams coach John Baxter.
O’Neill gives Michigan three scholarship specialists, including incoming freshman kicker Andrew David and redshirt sophomore long snapper Scott Sypniewski. However, O’Neill also puts Michigan at 87 scholarships for the upcoming season, which means that two players need to come off scholarship before the fall. There is at least one player who could become a medical casualty (Chris Fox), and there are a few walk-ons who have had scholarships in the past that might have to pay their own way (Graham Glasgow, Ryan Glasgow, Joe Kerridge).
TTB Rating: 86 (ratings explanation)