Heading into this season, the Wolverines lack experience on special teams. However, that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare. Freshman kicker Andrew David will be looking to make an immediate impact, and Australian football import Blake O'Neill should give Michigan's punting unit a much needed boost. On top of this, special teams coordinator John Baxter focused on the fundamentals in the spring and is now "looking forward to putting the pieces to a big jigsaw puzzle together." In Maize n Brew's final position overview, we take a look at Baxter's pieces. Later today, we speculate where these pieces might fit into that jigsaw puzzle.
No. 16 | Freshman | 5-9 | 170 lbs. | Massilon, Ohio
David's currently the only player listed as just a kicker on Michigan's roster, as well as the only one with a scholarship. He arrives in Ann Arbor this fall with a stellar high school resume that includes making the most field goals in school history (32), being a four-year letterman, and booting the fourth-longest field goal in Ohio high school football history (58 yards).
No. 12 | Freshman | 6-2 | 215 lbs. | Melbourne, Australia
A former Australian football player turned graduate transfer from Weber State, O'Neill punted his way into our hearts by coming to Ann Arbor to be a (Michigan) man at work from the land down under. He made a name for himself last year in the FCS by averaging 44.1 yards per punt with a long of 74 yards. For those keeping track at home, that would have been the second longest punt in the B1G last year.
No. 91 | Senior | 6-3 | 220 lbs. | Fenton, Michigan
No. 3 | Sophomore | 6-2 | 171 lbs. | Brighton, Michigan
No. 41 | Freshman | 6-1 | 177 lbs. | Saline, Michigan
Of these three Michigander walk-ons with the K/P label on the 2015 Michigan Football Roster, only Allen has registered game stats: a 51 yard punt near the end of Michigan's 59-9 rout of Central Michigan back in 2013. He's been waiting in the wings for three years since being a well-regarded recruit. Unfortunately, there's not much info on these three guys aside from that. Baxter has been tight-lipped since coming to Ann Arbor, and that won't be changing soon. Not to mention the fact spring football at Michigan consisted of minimal kicking.
Undetermined (but probably Jabrill Peppers)
With the transfer of Dennis Norfleet, the Wolverines lost their only experienced returner. Back in my spring special teams preview, I mentioned the laundry list of names that Baxter tried out as returner that included everyone from Jabrill Peppers to Wyatt Shallman. No info has surfaced since then even though Peppers seems to be the unofficial front runner due to Harbaugh's comments hinting at the possibility as well as Peppers expressing a desire to get involved in the kicking game.
No. 43 | Junior | 6-1 | 224 lbs. | Ottawa, Illinois
No. 41 | Sophomore | 5-11 | 209 lbs. | Troy, Michigan
Long snappers tend to fly under the radar until they make a mistake. That might seem boring to some football players, but not Sypniewski: he'd prefer nobody knowing he was even there during games. He redshirted in 2013 before starting in every game last season and earning a varsity letter. There's not much info on the potential Sypniewski vs. Robinson battle for long snapper aside from Baxter's comment in the spring that they are "two good, quality long-snappers."