Breaking Down the USFL Special Teams Rosters: A Look Ahead Into 2023
Updated: Apr 14
The United States Football League is gearing up to take the field in 2023, and fan interest will only grow as we head into the Second Season. With a new season comes new stars and the special team's units across the league are no exception. Let's take a closer look at the projected starting Kickers and Punters for each team;
Kicker/Kickoff Specialist - Brandon Aubrey
Punter - Colby Wadman
Brandon "Mr. Aubrimatic" Aubrey is returning for his second year with the Stallions to build on his already impressive career. The former soccer player turned USFL All-Star performed extremely well in the inaugural season, making 18 of his 22 field goal attempts (81.8%). Aubrey also went 22/24 on PATs, and help lead Birmingham to a championship while scoring a league-high 76 points in the process. Brandon was also, in my opinion, the best Kicker in the USFL. Fans will be looking forward to yelling "Aubrey For Three" once again!
Colby Wadman will also be returning for his second year with Birmingham. He punted 46 times in 2022, averaging about 45 yards per punt. I had him listed as the 3rd best Punter in the USFL at the end of the season. He was also able to pin his opponents inside their own 20-yard line about 37% of the time, which was just above the league average of 34%. I am looking forward to seeing how he performs in '23 and think he is poised for another great season.
Kicker/Kickoff Specialist - Nick Vogel
Punter - Andrew Galitz
Nick "Vogeltron" Vogel will be returning to Houston for his second stint with the Gamblers. As the second-best kicker in the USFL (Maybe the best?), he made 18 of his 23 attempts (78.3%) and went 12/15 on PATs. What's more impressive, however, is that Vogel led the league in 50+ yard field goals with a stunning 5 of 6 success rate. Vogel's ability to perform on the biggest stages makes him a valuable asset to the Gamblers, and fans will be eagerly awaiting the next time he is on the field.
Andrew Galitz, the Houstan's second-year Punter, is just as impressive. In '22, he was the 2nd best Punter, punting 47 times for an average of 44.5 yards and hitting roughly 43% of his punts inside his opponent's 20-yard line. Galitz's return will surely be a crucial part of the Gamblers' Special Teams Unit
Memphis Showboats - Formerly the Tampa Bay Bandits
Kicker - Alex Kessman
Punter/Kickoff Specialist - Brandon Wright
Alex Kessman will lead the Memphis Showboats onto the field, embracing a new identity as the team's starting Kicker for 2023. Kessman, a former standout at the University of Pittsburgh, is a promising addition to the Showboats' special teams unit. He played 50 games with Pitt, amassing 341 points, going 69/96 (71.8%) on field goals and was perfect on all 134 PATs. Over the course of Kessmans collegiate career, he went 12/18 on field goals over 50 yards, which is an impressive 66.7% success rate that set an NCAA record. With his strong leg and proven record of accuracy, Alex Kessman will be looking to prove himself in the Showboats' first season in Memphis.
Brandon Wright, the USFL's best Punter in 2022, will be returning to the Showboats to defend his title. He punted 45 times for an incredible 48.5 yards per punt and 41 net yards per punt, both of which we the best in the league. Brandon also handled kickoffs in 2022 and will likely handle them again this season. With how well he played last year, I'm actually pretty surprised that Wright wasn't scooped up by another professional football league.
Kicker/Kickoff Specialist - Cole Murphy
Punter - Kyle Kramer
Cole Murphy, a late breakout in 2022, came in during Week 5 and played so well that he secured a starting position for the rest of the year. He converted an impressive 11 of his 12 field goals and 9 of his 11 PATs. He went 3/3 on field goals between 40-49 yards and 2/3 on kicks of 50+ yards. His sole miss was from 56 yards out, and his longest field goal was 60 yards! He will also look to handle Kickoffs as well during his second year with the Panthers.
Kyle Kramer came in during Week 6 of the USFL Season after some questionable coaching decisions and was given the starting position for the remainder of the season. He punted a total of 16 times, for an average of 46.3 yards per punt. This is well and good, but he had low net yardage, which hurt his stock in my 2022 Punter Power Rankings. With the confidence of entering the 2023 Season as the team's starter, Kramer is poised to have a breakout year.
New Jersey Generals
Kicker - Nick Sciba
Punter - Brock Miller
Nick Sciba will be the Generals starting Kicker for the 2023 season. Sciba started his collegiate career with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 2018 and set the all-time record for career accuracy at 89.9% (80/89 on Field Goals). He was also perfect on all 193 extra-point attempts. Nick does have NFL experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing in his professional debut in a perfect game, kicking field goals from 28 and 38 yards out, as well as a single extra-point attempt. Sciba's addition to the special teams unit is sure to bring stability and dependability to an area that was an extreme weakness for the Generals in '22 and his presence will surely be felt on the field come April 15th.
Brock Miller was the team's starting Punter in 2022 but was a Free Agent after the season ended. It was announced on January 24th that Brock would be coming back for another stint with the Generals! He had a successful '22 campaign, punting 31 times for an average of 46.3 yards per punt, which was second-best in the league. The left-footed Punter will look to land at the top of the Punter Power Rankings again in 2023.
New Orleans Breakers
Kicker/Kickoff Specialist - Matt Coghlin
Punter - Matt White
Matt Coghlin was signed on March 3rd as the team's kicker for the 2023 USFL season, filling a gap in their roster that has been vacant for some time. The 24-year-old out of Cincinnati, Ohio maintained a 73% success rate on over 100 field goal attempts and was a perfect 148-for-148 on PATs. Coghlin also has experience as a kickoff specialist, averaging 62.7 yards through 80 attempts. A reliable kicker can often make the difference between winning and losing a game, and with Coghlin's track record of consistency (PAT Success %) and strong leg (Here he is kicking a 67-yard field goal) the New Orleans Breakers can feel secure in their special teams unit.
Matt White, also known as "19 The Machine", will be relied upon once again to handle Punting and Kickoff duties in 2023. White had a solid outing in his debut season with the Breakers, averaging 44.3 yards per punt throughout 10 games. While he may not have broken into the top 5 in my Punter Power Rankings he showed that he has the ability to flip field position for his team. White's performance was particularly impressive during Weeks 3-8 when he punted 25 times for an average of 49 yards a punt.
Kicker/Punter/Kickoff Specialist - Luis Aguilar
Luis Aguilar will be returning as the team's multi-talented Kicker, Punter, and Kickoff Specialist in 2023. He was brought into Philly midway through the 2022 season and performed well as the team's Kicker, making 8 of his 10 field goal attempts, and 19 of his PAT attempts. He only missed 2 kicks, with a 3 for 5 record on kicks over 40 yards. In his limited time punting for the Stars he did not fair very well, averaging about 39 yards per punt, and only breaking 50 yards 1 time. I'm interested to see if the Stars bring in any competition for Aguilar, but wouldn't be surprised if they give him the reigns once again for '23.
Kicker - Nathan Hierlihy
Punter - Matt Mengel
Nathan Hierlihy will be the newest specialist handling kicking duties for the Maulers in 2023. The 29-year-old out of California played college ball with the University of Redlands Bulldogs and was a serviceable player during that time. He went 28/41 on field goals (68%) and 86/89 on PATs. He also punted 52 times for an average of 42 yards per punt. I was hoping there would be an opportunity for Nathan to play in the CFL, where he spent time with the B.C.Lions, but it looks like he will have a bigger impact in the USFL.
Matt Mengel is probably my favourite Punter in the league, so I'm going to let you know I'm biased here. I first started following Matt in the USFL last year, when he started the season as the starting Kicker and Punter for the Philadelphia Stars. He may have struggled to make field goals, but so did most kickers due to a microchip inside the kicking ball that made the path of the ball unpredictable. Despite struggling with field goals, his punting numbers were impressive, averaging 40 yards per punt and pinning the ball inside the 20-yard line 46% of the time. He was picked up by the CFL's Edmonton Elks where he punted 24 times for an average of 47.2 yards per punt. The return of Mengel to the USFL is not only huge for the Maulers but for Punting fans everywhere!