The USFL has had its share of kicker issues over the first month of its inaugural season. The kicking game was so bad in Week 1 that the league actually opted to change its kicking balls to make it less of a problem for its eight teams.
One team that hasn’t dealt with such problems at the kicker spot is the Houston Gamblers. Houston has been one of the USFL’s best teams from a kicking standpoint, and that is thanks largely to the performance of Nick Vogel.
Vogel has been one of the best kickers in the USFL, but he has another claim to fame as well. He is related to actor Zach Galifianakis, who has starred in hit movies such as “The Hangover,” “Due Date” and “Birdman” during his decades-long career.
Here’s everything you need to know about Nick Vogel, who well may be the most interesting man in the USFL.
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Who is Nick Vogel?
Nick Vogel is the kicker for the Houston Gamblers in the USFL. He was selected in the 32nd round of the 2022 USFL Draft and was the seventh kicker chosen overall.
Vogel played football collegiately at UAB, which is located in Birmingham, the USFL’s host city for 2022.
He first began his career at UAB in 2014, when he was a redshirt freshman at the school. He then headed to Southern Miss after UAB shuttered its football program, but he never played for the Golden Eagles.
Vogel was one of the few Blazers to return to Birmingham when UAB reinstated football for the 2017 season. His return from him was all a part of a deal he made with his former roommate, Lee Dufour, when the program initially shut down.
“That was my primary plan in life: it’s going to come back and I’m going to leave this place and go back to my home in Birmingham,” Vogel told ESPN in 2016. “I know that sounds completely insane, but when I made the deal with Lee, I was 100 percent behind it.
The 5-10, 190-pound Vogel was true to his word and served as the Blazers’ kicker for three seasons. He converted on 47 of 64 career field goal attempts (73.4 percent) and made 128 of 131 extra points (97.7 percent). UAB posted a 28-13 record during Vogel’s three-year run and won the Boca Raton Bowl following the 2018 season.
Vogel didn’t play football in 2020 but joined the BC Lions of the CFL in 2021. He made all eight of his field goals in that role with a long of 44 yards. That set the stage for the second chapter of his pro career with the Gamblers.
MORE: Why USFL changed its kicking balls after Week 1
Nick Vogel USFL stats
Vogel posted solid numbers at UAB and with the Lions, but his performance with the Gamblers has been even better. He well may be the USFL’s best kicker through four weeks of action.
So far this season, Vogel has made 9-of-10 field goals for the Gamblers in four games. He has made all four of his attempts from 50 yards or longer and also has two makes for 40-plus yards. His combination of accuracy and leg strength has been rivaled only by Stallions kicker and former MLS player Brandon Aubrey.
Below is a full breakdown of Vogel’s 2022 kicking stats from each distance:
|Total||percentage||20-29 yds.||30-39 yds.||40-49 yds.||50+ yds.|
Oddly enough, Vogel’s lone miss came on a 27-yard field goal in the Gamblers’ opener. That may have been a function of the USFL’s original kicking balls, which it changed in Week 2 to better serve kickers.
That said, Vogel is just 4-6 on extra-point attempts, so perhaps he’s one of the rare kickers that is more accurate from a distance.
Nick Vogel highlights with Gamblers
Below are some of the highlights from Vogel’s first four games with the Gamblers. He is putting together a pretty impressive tryout tape that should land him an NFL opportunity in the not-so-distant future.
From 53 yards out, @nickvogel5‘s FG is good and gives us the lead! 🎲
— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) May 8, 2022
.@NickVogel5 from 51! 😱
— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) April 30, 2022
The field goal is good from 46!
— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) April 30, 2022
— USFL Houston Gamblers (@USFLHTXGamblers) April 23, 2022
Get you a kicker who can do both 👊
— Houston Gamblers (@USFLGamblers) April 24, 2022
Is Nick Vogel related to Zach Galifianakis?
Yes, Nick Vogel is Zach Galifianakis’ cousin. Technically, they are first cousins once removed.
Vogel’s grandfather, Mike Galifianakis, is brothers with Harry Galifianakis, who is the father of Zach Galifianakis. That makes Galifianakis’ grandparents — Emmanual Galifianakis and Sophia Kastrinakis Galifianakis — Vogel’s great grandparents.
“Once removed” means there is a one-generation gap between the 52-year-old Galifianakis and the 26-year-old Vogel. Vogel’s parents, Bill and Pauline Vogel are Galifianakis’ first cousins, which technically makes the movie star a first cousin once removed.
From MyHeritage: “For example, your dad’s first cousin, is your first cousin, but they are “once removed” because there is a generation between you and her. Your first cousin is in the same generation as you, so his child would be one generation below you.”
And one can see a direct familial line between Galifianakis and Vogel. It’s easy to see at least some of resemblance between the two.