Specials teams coach Jay Harbaugh weighing kick and punt return options

Specials teams coach Jay Harbaugh is wrestling whether he wants to put his veterans out to return kicks and punts or trust a young freshman to be able to handle the responsibility.

Michigan made it a point to address athleticism when recruiting the 2016 class.

With the infusion of young talent, which also includes plenty of speed, the coaching staff is always looking to upgrade in certain positions. That goes for the all-important position of returning punts and kicks.

The Wolverines saw a mixture of Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis and Jehu Chesson impacting the return game in some fashion a season ago. However, heading into the season opener, special teams coach Jay Harbaugh sees some young players making an impact in camp.

"There are a few guys that will have an opportunity," said Harbaugh. "Of the young guys, (Khaleke) Hudson has returned some, David Long has returned some, all three of the receivers have done a little bit, Chris Evans has. All those guys are capable of it."

Ideally, the coaching staff would prefer to preserve the likes of Peppers, Lewis and Chesson and keeping them away from any unnecessary injuries when used in the return game. At the same time, Harbaugh finds himself in a bit of a sticky situation.

Do you replace the All-American talent and trust that a true freshman can avoid mistakes?

"Sometimes you don't want the All-American guys returning kicks," said Harbaugh. "But you also like it because they're electrifying and they give you a chance to make a big play. Also, as the season goes, young guys get more comfortable and sometimes having a freshman out there catching a punt doesn't give you the best feeling in the world. You kind of let them get some experience under their belt and get comfortable before you put them out there doing something that's pretty difficult to do, catching kicks."


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