- Terra Molengraff/Daily
By Alexa Dettelbach, Daily Sports Editor
Published April 1, 2014
It may only be a few weeks into spring football practice, but the early enrollees are already making waves.
Defensive tackle Bryan Mone and offensive tackle Mason Cole have been the talk of the upperclassmen, but leading the pack in recent practices is wide receiver Freddy Canteen, who has emerged as a viable option in Michigan’s passing game. With a thin receiving corps, Canteen’s hands and polished route running are a welcome surprise for the Wolverines.
Canteen expects to make plays in the fall and calls himself the fastest player on the team.
“I believe he’s the second fastest, to me,” joked freshman safety Brandon Watson. “But he’s a good player, good route runner.”
Watson and Canteen have been teammates since the summer after seventh grade, and the two decided to continue the tradition when they both committed to Michigan on the same day. But it doesn’t end there — the two friends are also roommates and have been going up against each other almost every day in practice.
HAGERUP BACK IN ACTION: After being suspended for all of last season due to a violation of team policies, fifth-year senior punter Will Hagerup is back on the practice field.
Hagerup was the Big Ten Punter of the Year in 2012, but he hasn’t seen game action since Michigan fell to Ohio State, 26-21, in November — and a lot has happened in the last year and a half.
Last season, then-junior Matt Wile took over the punting responsibilities, but now the two are battling it out for the starting position. Wile will also take the reigns as the starting place kicker.
“There’s always been good competition between us,” Hagerup said. “I think it’s fun to have (multiple) guys at the position. He did a really good job last year, and it will be a really good competition.”
During his year off, Hagerup had weekly meetings with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Athletic Director Dave Brandon, Director of Athletic Counseling Greg Harden and a personal counselor.
“They gave me multiple hours per week … and seeing them weekly is something I’ll never be able to thank them for,” Hagerup said. “This was important because it showed that the people who I let down most were beginning to believe in me again. … Being reinstated was representative of that trust being built.”
Hoke officially notified Hagerup that he would be reinstated for the 2014 season last May, but the punter had an entire summer to fill with football not an option. The Milwaukee native spent five weeks working in a steel factory, an experience he called one of the most grueling of his life.
HAMMY ISSUES: A pair of early enrollees, wide receiver Drake Harris and linebacker Michael Ferns, have both struggled with hamstring injuries this spring.
Harris is no stranger to the injury, having sat out his senior season with hamstring issues. After a fast start to practice, the freshman now finds himself sidelined the rest of the spring.
“The injury is in a different place (from high school),” Harris said. “The way I felt this time was a lot different than from high school, so it’s nothing too major.”
On the other hand, Ferns has been able to play through his injury. He’s practiced the last two weeks and plans to play Saturday in the spring game. Ferns has seen time at the weak-side position in practice, and though the linebacker corps is arguably the team’s deepest position, he still has a possibility to see the field in the fall.