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2023 Ohio Bobcats Positional Previews: Special teams

There’s a lot of turnover for the specialists in Athens in 2023.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Toledo at Ohio Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • Nathanial Vakos (transfer to Wisconsin)
  • Tristian Vandeberg (does not appear on 2023 roster)
  • Jonah Wieland (graduation)


  • Gianni Spetic (incoming recruit)
  • Alexander Kasee (incoming recruit)
  • Jared Wheatley (transfer from Vanderbilt)


  • Jack Wilson

There’s a lot of new faces in the Ohio specialists room in 2023, as only starting punter Jack Wilson returns to reclaim his prior spot. It leaves a lot of unknowns for a special teams unit which was already pretty up-and-down last season.

Nathanial Vakos had a fabulous freshman campaign in 2022, converting on 22-of-27 attempts and 48-of-49 extra points, picking up Freshman All-American Honors from CFN. He departed for Wisconsin in the transfer portal, which left Ohio in a pinch with Tristian Vandeberg (who was primarily a kickoff specialist) also leaving the program during the offseason.

Enter two true freshmen in Gianni Spetic and Alexander Kasee.

Spetic is the more highly-heralded prospect, earning a three-star grade from 247Sports composite. Spetic’s leg caught the attention of Kohl’s Professional Camps, which described him as having a “unique range” and saying his ball looked different from others in evaluations throughout 2022.

Kasee showed great potential on kickoffs and punts as a junior in high school, and his senior performance improved on that, drawing several Power Five offers after placing on the first-team all-Ohio list before ultimately choosing Ohio University. Kasee was listed as having range from 55 yards and in as of March 2022, while also exhibiting good hangtime on punts and kickoffs.

Those two will fight for the starting placekicker position in spring and fall camps. This could be a spot where a late transfer kicker is brought in if neither guy get an edge in.

Punter is also a spot which could see some battling, even despite the return of “Willo” in 2023. Jack Wilson, the Aussie national, was the MAC’s worst punter in terms of average punt yards in 2022, picking up just 37.4 yards per boot in eight contests. (Akron transfer Jonah Wieland took over in the other four games, averaging 38.8 yards per punt.)

Wilson will have competition in camps in the form of Vanderbilt transfer Jared Wheatley. Wheatley was a four-year player in Nashville, though he only saw action in one game in 2020 as a sophomore, punting five times for an average of 33 yards and a long boot of 55 yards. The staff hopes he’ll return to his high school pedigree, where he averaged 48.5 yards per punt as North Carolina’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Special teams will be an intriguing (or stressful) phase to watch in Athens over the next few months

This is the final entry in a series of Ohio football previews. If you missed any other entries, please check out our preseason previews storystream here.

Ohio kicks off their 2023 campaign Saturday, August 26th at 7 p.m. ET, as they travel to San Diego, California to face off against the San Diego State Aztecs.