There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it will do so likely in empty stadiums with a conference-only schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Thanks for joining us as we combed through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Will Hart, true SR
247 Composite Ranking: n/a
2019 Stats: 51 punts, 44.2 yard avg
The hope is that there is not a ton to say about punter, and that probably is true for Will Hart. He came to Michigan without a ton of expectations, but even if there was a bar to reach, he has certainly done it. He has played in each of the Wolverines’ last 26 games and that streak should not end until he graduates following the 2020 season.
Hart was excellent as a new starter in 2018, earning first team All-Big Ten honors thanks to a 51.7 yard average as a starter. His accolades did not stop there, as he was named a Ray Guy Award semifinalist and a second team All-American by Sports Illustrated. While his average fell a bit in 2019, he still was very reliable and boomed several 50-plus yard punts. There is not too much else one can ask for from a punter.
Is there any competition for Hart among the other punters?
Only one other player made an appearance at punter last season. Brad Robbins was a decent recruit (for whatever that means) but he missed the entire 2018 season and only recorded four punts at the end of last year. While the job could have been his if he had stayed healthy, once Hart slid into the role and put up a Michigan record season (47 yard average), his fate was unfortunately sealed.
Hart would have to either get injured or slump majorly for him to lose the job. We have seen Jim Harbaugh mix up his kicking rotation, but this is far less likely to happen at punter unless there is a serious need. Even if Hart does not replicate his 2018 numbers, he still is an above-average option at the position and deserves to finish out his final year as a starter.
2020 will be a good opportunity for Hart to make a slight uptick in his numbers and show that he is ready for the next level. If he can keep his average strong, he will have three consistent seasons punting for a solid program and give himself a shot at a professional career. Even if he does not make it in the NFL, his efforts at Michigan should not be overlooked, as he has been a valuable specialist at an unglamorous position.