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2023 Akron Zips Positional Previews: Special teams

A late addition prior to fall camps injects some competition and experience into a shallow player pool.

NCAA Football: Akron at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports


  • Noah Gettman (graduation)
  • Kyle Romanick (transfer to Elon [FCS])
  • Corey Smigel (graduation)


  • Owen Wiley (incoming recruit)
  • Joseph Castle (incoming recruit)
  • Dante Jackson (transfer from Butte [CA] College [JUCO])


  • Noah Perez

Akron’s special teams were solid, if unspectacular in 2023. Noah Perez took over late in the season for Cory Smigel after the latter struggled with accuracy woes early on. Perez, for his part, was good for a freshman placekicker, going 6-of-9 on field goal attempts (with two misses in the final game of the season) and a perfect 11-of-11 on point-after kicks. He’ll be the incumbent in spring and fall camps given his performance last season.

True freshman Owen Wiley joins the program this offseason and could push Perez in camps, but Perez will be the favorite to start at placekicker at season’s start.

The punter position will certainly miss Noah Gettman, a former Sacred Heart transfer who averaged about 40.6 yards per punt, with five touchbacks, 13 punts inside-the-20 and five punts over 50+ yards. He was a pleasant surprise for the Zips in 2022 after some struggles at the position prior to his arrival.

There is currently just one pure punter on the roster in the form of four-star punting recruit Joseph Castle, a six-foot-two, 205 lb. true freshman. Castle is considered to be a hang-time savant, with Kohl’s Pro Camps timing Castle’s boots at around five seconds in-air and averaging 40+ air yards.

A late addition post-spring practices was Butte College's Dante Jackson. The five-foot-nine combination player joined the team prior to fall camps, which will add to the competition at both placekicker and punter.

Jackson played one season at Oregon State before transferring to Butte in 2022, finishing 8-of-11 on field goal attempts, with a long of 39 yards. His main claim to scholarship fame was his punting, finishing second in a stacked California JUCO ranks in punting yard net average (41.8), with over half of his 38 punts landing inside-the-20 with just one touchback.

This is the last a series of Akron football previews. If you missed any of the previous entries, you can catch up in our preseason preview storystream here.

Akron’s season kicks off Saturday, September 2nd at 2 p.m. Eastern time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they are set to play the Temple Owls.