It didn't come as much of a surprise on Tuesday when it was announced that Will Hagerup would sit out the entire 2013 season (via michigan.rivals.com). He had been suspended since mid-December for an undisclosed violation of team rules, and hadn't been reinstated since.
Fortunately for Hagerup, the door is open for him to return in 2014. There's no doubt that he'll have to pay his dues and work hard from this point till then, but at least the option is on the table for him.
This is almost identical to Darryl Stonum's situation a few years ago. Stonum was also going to be a senior heading into the 2011 season, but wound up serving a season-long suspension with the option to come back as a fifth-year senior.
Unfortunately, Stonum got into even more trouble with the law during that time, forcing Hoke to dismiss him altogether. Stonum and Hagerup were briefly teammates, so hopefully Hagerup can learn from Darryl's mistakes and find a better outcome for himself.
Honestly, though, Hagerup himself may be lucky to be getting this opportunity. This is his third suspension while at Michigan, and the second time he's been suspended under Brady Hoke.
The first occurred at the start of Hoke's tenure, when he was suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season. Even though Hagerup had his ups and downs throughout 2011, 2012 saw him bounce back in a big way.
He averaged 45 yards per punt on the year, which not only led the Big Ten, but also set a single-season Michigan record. With that being said, the Wolverines are still in good shape at the position, even with Hagerup's absence.
Junior Matt Wile is a veteran by now, as he has gained plenty of valuable game experience the past two years, both kicking and punting.
Honestly, Wile's versatility actually makes him a pretty valuable piece to this special teams unit. He will undoubtedly handle the punting duties this season, and may spell Brendan Gibbons on certain field-goal situations, just as we saw last year.
Assuming Hagerup does return as a fifth-year senior in 2014, the position could wind up being too crowded. That's a great problem to have, though, as competition brings out the best in players.
Still, Hagerup's future return is a big IF. We saw what happened with Stonum in this same situation, as he wasn't able to make it through the entire duration.
A suspension of this length is a very long time for a 21-year old such as Hagerup to wrap his head around, so hopefully he realizes the magnitude of it.
This isn't a knock at all on his intelligence, but sometimes college kids don't always put things in perspective. If Hagerup can get through all of the work that will be asked of him and he does indeed return, then that will show his true character.
And make no mistake, the things that will be asked out of him from Hoke and this staff will be grueling and brutal. The point needs to be made, though, that it is a privilege to be called a Michigan Man, and a true honor to play football here at the University of Michigan.
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