Extremely positive articles over the past week leave this as no surprise, but Michigan has gained a commitment from CA K Matt Wile following his official visit to Ann Arbor.
|NR K||2*, 5.3, NR K||2*, 73, #44 K|
Wile is a bit more under-the-radar than Michigan's previous few options at kicker; ESPN calls him the #44 kicker in the nation, while the other two services place him outside their "top kickers" rankings (Rivals ranks 20 and Scout only 11). ESPN on his game:
He has a field goal approach that is repeatable. The ball jumps off his foot and he has a smooth rhythm. He does need to finish down field more on his FG at times. There are times where he pivots and comes across his body slightly. His kick offs are solid for a high school kicker. He generally drives the ball into the endzone and gives his team good hang-time to run underneath his kicks... Matt should be able compete early in college.
So: reasonably strong leg, needs to refine technique to make sure his kicks are accurate. With excellent size (6-2, 200) he is also a big, athletic prospect who played several sports growing up. His coach talked up that leg strength to Sam Webb:
"I think he went to Northwestern camp this past summer and hit a 63 (-yarder) off the ground, and he did it again in San Antonio for the Army All American game just this two weeks ago. He hit a 58 off the ground. I've got some film of him putting kickoffs through the goalposts from the 40 off a 1-inch tee when he was a sophomore in high school."
He's been training in field goals without a tee (college-style) for the past two or three years, so the transition will hopefully be a smooth one. Wile kicked in the Army All-American Game, so he has been recognized by at least somebody as a top prospect:
Wile is a versatile player who could kick or punt equally well in college. He could see the field as a freshman due to his strong leg on kickoffs. Wile’s mechanics on field goals are picture-perfect, leading to consistent results.
All services mention that he's a candidate to punt at the next level as well (which is what he did in the Army Game), so as a senior or redshirt junior, he could replace Will Hagerup.
Rivals lists offers from Air Force, San Diego State, and Washington in addition to Michigan. Michigan's current staff offered him at SDSU, which makes sense as he's a local recruit for them. He also has a greyshirt offer from Washington.
He was planning to visit Nebraska next weekend ($, info in header), and he was likely to be offered by the Huskers at that time. However, the opportunity to be a 5th-generation(!) Michigan student was too much to pass up - although he hadn't planned to commit on the visit.
The Army website has junior stats:
Wile’s kickoffs ended in touchbacks an astounding 89 percent of the time in 2009, including four that went through the uprights. He also converted on 9 of his 12 field goal attempts, with a long of 48 yards. Wile also serves as his school’s punter, showing good consistency while averaging 42 yards per punt.
So there's that.
FAKE 40 TIME
Matt is a kicker, and therefore 40 times are irrelevant. I couldn't find one online anyway, though ESPN hints that he's good covering kickoffs. I give five FAKEs out of five.
Highlights (yes, kickers with highlight videos -- this is our world):
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan's pursuit of Wile shows that the coaching staff is not confident in Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen going forward. This means that Wile is likely to start as a true freshman, and probably to be a four-year starter. However, if he can't beat out Gibbons or Broekhuizen as a freshman, he could redshirt then start for the following four years.
As a capable punter (mentioned above), he could also punt once Will Hagerup graduates. That means there's a possibility he punts as a senior or a redshirt junior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The kicker is here! Since this was a position of need, the spot was almost certain to be filled, so it's already been accounted for in the commitment breakdown. Michigan still needs a defensive tackle, a safety, and a quarterback.
Any unused spots will either go to newly emerging prospects, or be banked for the excellent midwest class of 2012.