Meet Your 2023 XFL Special Teams Players
Updated: Feb 16
As the XFL gears up for its inaugural season, two vital positions that will play a crucial role in the early success of the teams are the kicker and punter. While often overlooked, their contributions on the field can make a decisive impact on the outcome of a game. Let's discuss where specialists are heading for the upcoming 2023 XFL Season;
There are 8 teams in the twice-revived XFL, which means that roughly 16 specialists will get a shot at proving themselves to the rest of the football world. Throughout this article, I will go through each special team roster and break down who they selected/signed and what I think about it. A special thanks to Nick Novak, from Novak Kicking & Consulting, LLC, for hosting the XFL Specialist Camp as well as posting film for many specialists in the 2022 Draft Pool.
- Taylor Russolino - Kicker/Punter - Drafted Round 1, Pick 1
- Marquette King - Punter - Drafted Round 3, Pick 17
Tyler Russolino is a 33-year-old out of Millsaps University in Mississippi who has bounced around a little bit in his professional career. He is listed here as both kicker and punter because of his time in the CFL (2017) when he punted for an injured Boris Bede. Tyler coincidentally played in the 2020 XFL season with the St. Louis Battlehawks, where he was 9/10 on field goals. He set an XFL record with a long 58 yard field goal. You can view more of his 2020 film here, where he makes field goals from 40, 48, and 58. He has been working with Nick Novak for quite some time, where he routinely hit for 50+ yards and even broke into the 60s.
Marquette King is a 34-year-old out of Fort Valley State and is well known to the special teams' world. After an NFL career of 6 years, Marquette quickly became known as a kicker with a huge leg. He also played for the St. Louis Battelhawks and lead all punters in Average-Yards-Per-Punt in the 2020 XFL Season. He attended the XFL Specialist Camp, hosted by Nick Novak, and his film can be seen here. He averaged 52.7 yards on 10 punts and really impressed me. Arlington has one of the best special teams on paper.
- Daniel Whelan - Punter/Kicker - Drafted Round 1, Pick 2
- Jacob Schum - Punter - Drafted Round 3, Pick 18 - RELEASED JAN 21st
- Mathew McCrane - Kicker - Signed Jan 18th
Daniel Whelan is an Irish Punter who played for UC-Davis during his University career. He went unselected during the 2022 NFL Draft but signed with the New Orleans Saints during their rookie Minicamp. He is one of the rare kickers who seems to be able to do it all. During his time at UC-Davis, he handled kickoff and punting duties, but as shown in his film for his XFL Specialist Camp found here, he can also kick field goals. He finished his XFL camp with an average of 54.7 yards on 10 punts. He also made field goals from 50, 55, and 60 yards out with perfect precision.
Jacob Schum is a 33-year-old veteran punter who has played in a couple of professional leagues. The New York native bounced around a couple of NFL special teams before being released by the Green Bay Packers in 2017. Schum also played for the Tampa Bay Vipers in the 2020 XFL Season where he averaged 42.3 yards over 15 punts. During his 2022 XFL camp, the film can be found here, he averaged 47 yards on 10 punts and while I didn't think he had the best camp, he has certainly improved his craft over the years.
Mathew McCrane a 28-year-old kicker from Brownwood, Texas, started his career at Kansas State University in 2014 where he became the school's all-time leader in career field goals made, career field goal percentage, and extra point percentage. After going undrafted in 2018, he played for the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers and found moderate success filling in for injured starters. He joined the XFL's New York Guardians in 2019 and had a successful stint, making all 8 of his field goals before the league folded at the end of the year. His most impressive kicks from the 2020 XFL Season can be found here.
- Hunter Duplessis - Kicker - Drafte Round 1, Pick 5
- Race Porter - Punter - Drafted Round 3, Pick 21
Hunter Duplessis is a rookie coming out of UTSA and, in my opinion, is on an XFL roster because of his stellar XFL Camp. His film can, and should, be watched here. Duplessis when 9/9 on all field goal attempts during camp. He made kicks from 33, 38, 44, 48, 51, 54, 57, and 60 yards out with perfect precision and I had him listed as a lock for the XFL. Hunter just has insane potential and will look to be a star in the XFL!
Race Porter is a rookie coming out of the University of Washington who actually wasn't featured in the 2022 XFL Specialist camp. While in university, he punted 85 times for an average of 46.2 yards per punt. Some of his highlights can be found here. During his last year with the Huskies, he pinned his opponents inside the 20 yard line, 37.8% of the time, which is a huge statistic.
- José Borregales - Kicker - Drafted Round 1, Pick 6
- Andrew Anckle - Punter - Drafted Round 3, Pick 22 - Released Jan. 24th
- Johnny Townsend - Punter - Signed Jan. 24th
José Borregales is a Venezuelan kicker from the University of Miami. This rookie went 70/88 (80%) in his Pre-Professional career and finished the 2020 season going 20/22 (91%). While he did not compete in the 2022 XFL Showcase, he did take part in Kohl's Kicking Camp in 2021. He performed very well and the film from this camp can be found here.
Andrew Anckle is a rookie punter product coming out of the McKendree Bearcats football program. There is not a lot of information from him online but it looks like he played 2 seasons of university football where he punted 52 times for an average of 38.4 yards per punt. He did not participate in the 2022 XFL Specialist Showcase but has posted some highlights that can be found here.
Johnny Townsend, an Orlando Florida native and Florida State University Alum, had a successful college career, finishing as the all-time leading punter in program history and breaking SEC records with an average of 46.2 yards per punt. He was drafted in the 5th round by the NFL's Oakland Raiders in 2018 and played 16 games for them. Unfortunately, his production dropped in his first professional year and he was a free agent in 2019. In 2021, he received looks from the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans but wasn't able to secure a roster spot. Even though he may not have had the same level of success in the NFL as he did in college, Townsend's potential is undeniable and he is sure to make a significant impact on the Guardians' special teams unit.
San Antonio Brahmas
- John Parker Romo - Kicker - Drafted Round 2, Pick 10
- Brad Wing - Punter - Drafted Drafted Round 3, Pick 23
John Parker Romo is a rookie specialist coming out of Virginia Tech. Romo handled kickoff duties during his years with Virginia Tech and dabbled in both place-kicking and punting. He went 18/22 (81.8%) on field goals and 34/34 on PATs. During his XFL Showcase, the film found here, Romo went 7/8 on field goals with a long of 54 yards. He also showed he can punt in a pinch.
Brad Wing is a 31-year-old who has experience in both the NFL and the AAF. The Aussie averaged 44.7 yards per punt throughout his 4 year NFL career. Wing took part in the XFL Showcase, the film found here, and performed well. He seemed to only hit punts over 50 yards or under 40. Despite the hot-and-cold performance, he did manage to get out of there with an average of 44.4 yards over 10 punts. He does have a huge hang-time average as well (4.83 seconds).
St. Louis Battlehawks
- Sterling Hofrichter - Punter - Drafted Round 1, Pick 3
- Donald Hageman - Kicker - Drafted Round 2, Pick 14
Sterling Hofrichter is a 25-year-old punter out of Syracuse. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 and played in the NFL for 2 years. He averaged 42.1 yards and 39.3 net yards per punt over 62 attempts. He managed to pin his opponents inside the 20 yard line 32% of the time. Hofrichter has some highlights from his time in Syracuse that can be found here.
Donald Hageman is a kicker out of San Diego State with some huge potential. During his time in Post Secondary, he went 37/47 (79%) on field goals with a career-long of 54 yards. He played for the San Diego Fleet in the AAF during their 2019 season and Hageman went 14/19 on field goals.
Seattle Sea Dragons
- Cameron Nizialek - Punter - Drafted Round 2, Pick 9
- Brandon Ruiz - Kicker - Drafted Round 3, Pick 24 - Released Feb. 6TH
- Dominik Eberle - Kicker - Signed Feb, 6th
Cameron Nizialek is a 27-year-old punter out of Columbia (and subsequently Georgia) who has played in a few professional leagues. Coming out of college, he averaged around 43 yards and 42 net yards per punt on over 200 attempts. He started his professional career with the Atlanta Legends for the AAF in 2019. He averaged 47.4 yards per punt on 34 attempts with a long of 65 yards. He also played a couple of snaps in the NFL for the Falcons and the Steelers. Going through some film that Nizialek has posted, found here, he is also a serviceable kicker.
Brandon Ruiz is a rookie place-kicker product from Mississippi and Arizona State. During his time in college, he went 52/70 (74%). He did take part in the XFL Showcase, the film found here, and had a productive day. He went 7/8 on field goals with a long of 57 yards and I had notes stating he would be on an XFL team after the draft.
Dominik Eberle, the 26-year-old kicker, was added to the Seattle Sea Dragons' special teams unit on February 6th. Eberle played for Utah State, scoring an impressive 359 points in 43 games, with 64 made field goals and a success rate of almost 80% on 81 attempts. He also holds eight all-time records with the program, including points scored, made field goals, extra points made, and attempted, with a perfect 100% PAT success rate. Eberle averaged 61 yards on 257 kickoffs and tied two NCAA records for most points scored in a single game and most 50-yard field goals in a game. Despite going undrafted in 2020, Eberle made three of four field goals and seven of nine PATs in his limited time in the NFL. The Sea Dragons can count on Eberle's college success and record-setting performances to lead their special teams in their inaugural season.
Las Vegas Vipers
- Michael Carrizosa - Kicker/Punter - Drafted Round 1, Pick 4
- Bailey Giffen - Kicker - Drafted Round 2, Pick 13
Michael Carrizosa is probably best known for his departure from the USFL Michigan Panthers. You can check out an article I wrote back in May 2022 regarding his release here. Carrizosa is considered a kicker, as well as a punter and was tasked with handling all 3 kicking duties while in the USFL. This was his downfall, however, as his kicking game is what got him released. The thing is, Michael is a great punter and Michigan never recovered. During his short tenure in the USFL, he punted 17 times for an average of 46.1 yards and 40.5 net yards per punt. He took part in the 2022 XFL Specialist showcase, the film can be found here. He finished the day with an average of 45.8 yards on 10 punts. He also showed his growth in terms of kicking accuracy as he went 4/4 from 35-50 yards with almost perfect precision.
Bailey Giffen is a kicker coming out of Lamar University. During his time there he went 34/46 (74%) on field goals and punted 86 times for an average of 40.5 yards per punt. He also competed in the XFL Showcase, the film found here, making 7/8 of his field goals with a long of 54 yards out. He also showed he can punt the ball decently well with an average of 49.6 yards on 3 punts. We will have to wait and see which kicker performs which duty come game day.
Thank you for making it this far in my article! Please make sure to let me know what you think. -Big Ups to everyone on Twitter who continues to post great Specialist content. -
I couldn't do it without you :)