It’s a cliché you’ve heard from football coaches all across the country: There’s three parts of football: offense, defense and special teams.
A unit that can be an afterthought at some schools was elite for the Michigan Wolverines last year, as the consistency of the special teams unit was an integral in the Wolverines having one of their most successful seasons in a long time.
Special teams success starts with your placekicker, and the Wolverines certainly have a good one. Talented kicker Jake Moody announced last week that he would be returning the Wolverines for a fifth season.
Moody rightfully was deemed “Money Moody” by many Michigan fans on social media for his ability to make kicks. He hit 23 of his 25 field goal attempts, and has yet to miss an extra point (88-for-88) in his collegiate career.
The Northville, Mich., native won a few awards for his efforts last season, as he was named a 2021 Consensus All-American, won the Lou Groza award presented to the top collegiate placekicker, and was named Specialist of the Year at the team’s award banquet.
Punter Brad Robbins will also be returning next season. Robbins averaged 46.3 yards per punt in 2021, serving a steady placeholder for Moody.
Robbins’ long snapper, William Wagner will be returning for his senior season in 2022. That trio returning means Michigan can rely on having an elite specials teams unit heading into next season.
In terms of returning punts and kicks, the job is A.J. Henning’s to lose. Ronnie Bell will be returning next season, but is unlikely to retake the returning job after his scary ACL injury last season.
Henning stepped up in Bell’s absence and did a pretty decent job, averaging 29.8 yards per kick return and ranking in the top 20 in punt returning with 9.4 return yards per attempt and sixth in the country with 274 total punt return yards.
If Henning isn’t the main returner next season, Michigan fans should expect guys like Blake Corum, Roman Wilson or D.J. Turner to step up in his place.
With so many guys declaring for the NFL and the rumors surrounding Coach Harbaugh, there’s a lot of uncertainty heading into next year for U-M. But at the very least, the Wolverines count on having a very good special teams unit again in 2022.