On Monday afternoon, the Wisconsin Badgers football team received word that former Arkansas kickoff specialist Vito Calvaruso will be transferring to Madison for the 2022 season. Calvaruso announced his intent to transfer three weeks ago and after looking around he, correctly, assumed that there is no better place to spend your final collegiate years than Wisconsin.
I’m excited to announce that I will be transferring to the University of Wisconsin. #gobadgers @tmehlhaff10 @CoachHaering @BadgerFootball @OneOnOneKicking @SADER_FOOTBALL pic.twitter.com/alSKCDplbO— Vito Calvaruso (@vito_calvaruso) December 27, 2021
Calvaruso, who hails from Jefferson City, Mo., is 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds. He was rated a 5-star kicker, 4-star punter and No. 20 overall kicker in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking in the 2020 class. He had offers from Mississippi State, Army, Iowa State, Memphis, Virginia Tech and others. With the additional year granted due to COVID, Calvaruso will have three years of eligibility remaining.
What Wisconsin fans will love to hear is that Calvaruso can boot the hell out of the ball on kickoffs. This season for Arkansas he attempted 74 kickoffs and 63 (!!!) of them were touchbacks. That’s a robust 85.1% touchback percentage! According to Pro Football Focus, Calvaruso’s 93.4 kickoff grade in 2021 was the best for all FBS kickers. His average of 64.8 yards per kickoff was tied for second among all FBS kickers and he also did not have a single kickoff go out of bounds in 2021.
This is a good pickup for the Badgers, especially since Wisconsin’s kick coverage unit (which ranked better than I thought) allowed a lesser average per kick return than Arkansas’ unit did. Wisconsin will probably still be active in the transfer portal this offseason, but this is a minor move that should pay big dividends next season.