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2018 Villanova Football Preview: A look at special teams

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The final countdown.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Lafayette Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

We finish our season preview countdown to the start of the 2018 football season and the Sept. 1 showdown between Villanova and Temple, with a look at the special teams. The Wildcats will be replacing a couple of long-time specialists.

Other Previews: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide Receivers | Offensive Line | Defensive Line | Linebackers | Defensive Backs


Returnees

#98 Drew Kresge (5-10, 200) Jr., K/P
#59 Kevin Crabtree (6-1, 225) So., LS
#51 Joey D’Antonio (5-8, 170), LS

Departures

John Hinchen (5-11, 190), P
Steve Weyler (5-10, 175), K
Gerard Smith (5-11, 190), K
Collin Linden (6-1, 170), LS

Newcomers

#96 Nathan Fondacaro (5-10, 180), K/P -- Sewell, N.J./St. Augustine Prep
#49 Casey Nicastro (6-0, 205), LS -- Drexel Hill, Pa./William Penn Charter


Villanova’s special teams has shaken up a bit going into the 2018 season.

At the end of last season, the Wildcats said farewell to a number of mainstays. Two-time All-CAA honoree John Hinchen graduated after spending the last four years as the Wildcats’ punter. He finished off his time at the Main Line with career-high 42.9 yards per punt last season, with 14-of-58 punts going for 50 yards for more. Apart from Hinchen, Villanova will debut a new long snapper, as Collin Linden also graduated. Linden was the team’s long snapper ever since he first set foot on the field as a freshman.

Also, the kicker situation seems to have cleared up for the Wildcats, as both Steve Weyler and Gerard Smith are also gone. Weyler primarily handled kickoff duty last season, but both of them saw junior Drew Kresge emerge to the forefront on placekicking.

Kresge will not only handle field goals and extra-point attempts, but he will also become the team’s full-time punter. As a kicker last year, he edged out the rest of the competition for the starting job and did pretty well. Villanova maintained another solid year of kicking, as Kresge went 8-for-10 on field goals and was nearly perfect on point-after attempts (26-of-27). His two field goal misses came from 42 and 47 yards out, but he made three other field goals from at least 40 yards.

Unlike in years past when Villanova seemed to have three or four different kickers on roster, it appears that it will just be Kresge and newcomer Nathan Fondacaro. Fondacaro, a New Jersey native, excelled in high school as a kicker and punter at St. Augustine Prep. According to Kohl’s Professional Camps, a service that evaluates and focuses on specialists only, he is a five-star kicker and punter. He will handle kickoffs, and serve as Kresge’s backup on place kicks and punts.

Sophomore Kevin Crabtree will take over at long snapper. He was an all-state long snapper and all-league center coming out of Milton Academy (Mass.).

Aside from Fondacaro, the other newcomer to the special teams unit is Casey Nicastro. He is the son of Vince Nicastro, who was the former Villanova Athletic Director before leaving to become the Associate Director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the study of Sports Law at the university’s law school. Since then, Nicastro has moved on to the Big East Conference, where he serves as the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer under Val Ackerman.

His son, Casey, joins the team as a long snapper.