Now we take a look at the 10 best punters in Michigan Football history.
#11 – Chuck Ortmann: Is perhaps most famous for his role in the 1950 Snow Bowl. In the game, which Michigan won 9-3, Ortmann punted 24 times for 723 yards both of which are school records. Ortmann was a great all around player. He was a starter as a sophomore for the undefeated 1948 Michigan Wolverines football team that won the National Championship. As a senior in 1950, he was responsible for 90% of Michigan’s total offense.
#10 – Hayden Epstein: Was both a punter and kicker during his Michigan career (1998-01). He averaged 39.9 yards per punt in his career which is 6th on the All Time list. In Michigan’s 2000 game at UCLA, Epstein punted nine times for 400 yards. The 400 yards is the 6th best single game total in school history.
Epstein also ranks 10th on Michigan Football’s all-time best kickers list.
#9 – Chris Stapleton: Enjoyed a fine career at Michigan (1989-93) in which he averaged 40.3 yards per punt which is 5th on the All Time list. In Michigan’s 1989 victory at Illinois, Stapleton averaged 51.7 yards per punt which is tied for the fifth on the all-time list.
#8 – John Anderson: An All American linebacker, Anderson was also an outstanding punter. He ranks seventh in school history with a career punting average of 39.5 yards per punt.
Anderson was selected as an All Big Ten team punter and a 1977 All American linebacker.
Anderson was selected in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers and enjoyed a successful career in the NFL (1978-89).
#7 – Adam Finley: Finley averaged 41.9 yards per punt in his career (2001-04) which places him third on the All Time list. In 2004 Finley averaged 43.0 yards per punt which is the 5th best single season in school history.
#6 – Tom Harmon: The 1940 Heisman winner, Harmon was among other things an outstanding punter. On October 26th 1940 in a game against Penn, Harmon punted 12 times for 442 yards.
Harmon also ranks as No. 2 on Michigan Football’s all-time best running backs list.
#5 – Don Bracken: Ranks 4th in school history with a career 40.8 yard punting average. In 1981 Bracken averaged 43.34 yards per punt which ranks as the 4th best season in school history. In 1980 he averaged 42.67 yards per punt, which is the 7th best season in school history. On October 24th 1981 in a game against Northwestern Bracken averaged a school record 56.3 yards per punt.
In the 1973 Rose Bowl, Bracken set a Rose Bowl record with a 73 yard punt. He punted in the NFL for six years with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams
#4 – Frank Steketee: A 1918 All American halfback, Steketee was regarded as one of the best punters in the game. Legend has it he once booted a 100 yard punt. He was an outstanding distance punter.
#3 – Monte Robbins: Before Zoltan Mesko, Robbins pretty much owned all of Michigan’s punting records. Robbins is the career leader in punting average (42.8). He has also had the 3 of the 4 best single season punting averages; 43.63, 43.62, and 43.51. Robbins owns 3 of the best 5 single game highest punt averages; 52.3, 52.0, and 51.7
Robbins was selected in the fourth round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
#2 – Harry Kipke: Named an All-American halfback in 1922 primarily because of his great punting ability, Kipke was also team captain of Michigan’s 1923 National Championship team. He had an uncanny ability to pin opponents deep by punting out of bounds near the goal line. He is said to have been an incredibly accurate punter and one of the best punters Michigan has ever had.
During his Michigan career (1921-23) Kipke helped guide the Wolverines to a 19-1-2 record. He later became head coach of the Wolverines and led Michigan to four straight conference championships and two National Championships between 1930 and 1933. Kipke also recruited Tom Harmon to Michigan and even convinced him to stay with Michigan after he was let go as head coach.
Kipke went on to become the 6th best coach in Michigan Football history.
#1 – Zoltan Mesko: Michigan’s all-time record holder in punts (252) and yardage (10,703), Mesko earned All-American honors in his senior season (2009). Mesko also was a two-time All-Big Ten first team selection (2008, 09). During his brilliant senior campaign, Mesko finished eighth nationally in punting with a Michigan season record 44.5-yard average. He helped the Wolverines list third nationally in net punting with a 40.9-yard average.
Mesko was a 4-time Academic All-Big Ten selection during his career and an Academic All-American in 2009.
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