J.T. Floyd, Will Hagerup, Brandin Hawthorne suspended by Michigan for Outback Bowl
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan has suspended three players for the Outback Bowl just six days before departing for Florida.
The Wolverines announced Sunday that cornerback J.T. Floyd, punter Will Hagerup and linebacker Brandin Hawthorne will not play against South Carolina on Jan. 1 due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
"It is an honor to play football for the University of Michigan, and we have high standards and expectations for everyone that represents our program," coach Brady Hoke said in a statement. "These young men used poor judgment in each circumstance, and these suspensions are teaching moments for our team."
That will prematurely end the careers of Floyd and Hawthorne, who are seniors.
The absence of Floyd and Hagerup will hurt the most. Floyd started every game at cornerback this season, earning All-Big Ten honorable mention honors, and Hagerup led the league in punting. He was named the Big Ten's punter of the year.
Floyd is a third-year starter who provided experience opposite first-year starting corner Raymon Taylor, who was thrust into starting duty due to the season-ending ACL injury to Blake Countess. Michigan now will be without both its opening-day starters at cornerback.
Floyd was extolled by coaches this season for becoming a senior leader. The Greenville, S.C. native said recently he was looking forward to finishing his career against his homestate team.
"It's exciting for me, it's the life coming full circle," Floyd said recently. "They were my first offer and it's my last collegiate game, so I'm blessed -- and I get to play for the maize and blue."
Michigan moved freshman taiback Dennis Norfleet to cornerback during bowl preparations, which could help mitigate depth issues caused by Floyd's absence.
Junior Courtney Avery likely will start for Floyd against South Carolina.
Sophomore Matt Wile likely will handle the punting duties for Hagerup, who averaged a Big Ten-best 45.0 yards per attempt this year.
It was a comeback season for Hagerup, who has a history of off-the-field issues. He was suspended four games to begin last season, and was suspended one game his freshman year, both also for undisclosed violation of team rules.
Hagerup now has missed at least one game in each of his first three seasons due to suspension. He has missed six games overall.
He talked recently about learning from his suspension last year, and using it to fuel his comeback season this year.
"Last year, in more ways than one, on and off the field, was a learning experience for me and a developmental time," he said in Indianapolis, where he was accepting his league punter of the year award. "Then breaking my foot this summer was another setback.
"That first punt against Alabama was a huge confidence-booster for me, and let me know I do know how to do this. I am the guy who should be doing this job. ... Just felt like it got some of the weight off my shoulders."
Hawthorne played sparingly on defense this year, but was one of Michigan's best cover men on special teams.
The announcement of Michigan's three suspensions comes just one day after South Carolina announced it had suspended receiver D.L. Moore and offensive lineman Kyle Harris for the Outback Bowl.
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