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Predicting Michigan Football’s depth chart at special teams

A veteran group returns hoping to right last year’s wrongs.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams have been an excellent microcosm of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor. There has been a plethora of talent, but occasional maddening inconsistencies that have plagued the group. 2021 appears to be more of the same with several returning starters across the board, all of which looking to improve on an otherwise sub-par 2020 campaign.

Here’s my stab at the special teams depth chart in 2021.

Kicker: Jake Moody, senior

Backup: Tommy Doman Jr, freshman

Throughout most of his career at Michigan, Moody has split reps with Quinn Nordin. Now that Nordin is out of the picture and attempting to gain a roster spot with the New England Patriots, the attention now turns solely to Moody. Jake has always been the more accurate kicker but struggled from long range. In 2018, Moody was 10-11 on field goals. He followed that up with 6-9 and 1-4 in the next two seasons. Moody will look to right the ship and gain some consistency. Expect to see Jake handle kickoff duty as well.

Punter: Brad Robbins, graduate student

Backup: Tommy Doman Jr, freshman

Similar to Moody, Robbins has also spent most of his career splitting time. Robbins and Will Hart have shared punting duties in the past. In December, Hart announced that he had entered the transfer portal and eventually landed at San Jose State, leaving Robbins as the only experienced punter on the roster.

With that being said, Robbins has a booming leg and should be a strength for this Michigan team. Robbins jumped out to a hot start during his freshman year in 2017 and was an honorable-mention all-conference punter. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2018 season and most of 2019 due to injury. Upon his return in 2020 Robbins blasted 23 punts, eight of which sticking inside the 20, for an average of 45.3 yards per punt.

Tommy Doman Jr looks to be the primary backup at both the punter and kicker spots. The true freshman comes to Ann Arbor as highly rated as you can reasonably expect for a punter/kicker.

Long Snapper: William Wagner, junior

Backup: Greg Tarr, sophomore

Camaron Cheeseman was about as high profile of a player as you will see at the long snapper position. The 2021 sixth-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team opted out of the 2020 season, paving the way for a new starter to take over. William Wagner stepped up and started all six games in 2020 and was spectacularly unspectacular. If you didn’t know that Wagner started last season, I don’t blame you. However, isn’t that a sign of a successful long snapper?

Holder: Brad Robbins, graduate student

Backup: Do we have one of those?

Michigan has not had a Peter Mortell Holder of the Year award winner since the illustrious Garrett Moores in 2016. Could this be the year?

Punt Returner: Mike Sainristil, junior

Backup: AJ Henning, sophomore

An added plus to Josh Gattis’s speed-in-space mantra is having a plethora of small, quick-twitch athletes. These types of players are perfect for kick and punt returns. Mike Sanristil appears to have locked down the job of a punt returner and hopes to continue a long line of successful punt returners in Michigan history including Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, Jabrill Peppers, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Kick Returner: Blake Corum, sophomore

Backup: AJ Henning, sophomore

I’m listing Corum as the primary kick returner, though this isn’t set in stone. The coaching staff has emphasized getting Corum on the field as much as possible. I suspect that the more we see of Corum on offense, the less we will see of him on special teams. Conversely, with the running back room being as loaded as it is, Blake may see his best opportunity to make a difference on the field as the primary kick returner.