Pisetsky, Vitaly : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Pisetsky, Vitaly

Pisetsky, who was a member of the Russian National soccer team before emigrating to the United States, went undrafted coming out of the University of Wisconsin, despite being projected as a high round draft pick in the 2001 NFL Draft (the Sporting News ranked him the No. 1 kicker in the draft). Vitaly was in training camp with the Chicago Bears, but was released prior to the regular season.

Vitaly enrolled at Wisconsin just three years after entering the United States and he lost a year of eligibility because the NCAA requires four years of English for any player to be eligible. Because he scored a 96 percent on his English placement test at Wisconsin, Vitaly challenged the rule and the NCAA said that if he graduated by December 1999, he would regain that year. Since he graduated at that time with degrees in Russian and international relations, Pisetsky was allowed to play the 2000 season.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. January 28, 1978

Career Highlights:
Pisetsky emigrated with his parents to the United States from Russia in 1992 and settled in New York City. After a terrific high school career where he was a Blue Chip All-America, he chose to attend the University of Wisconsin. In 1997, he played solely as the Badgers' kickoff specialist. He recorded 26 touchbacks in 63 kickoffs and the Badgers finished the season 8-4-0. They lost to Georgia, 33-6, in the Outback Bowl.

In 1998, Vitaly remained the team's kickoff specialist. In 77 kickoffs, he held the opponents inside their 20-yard line 53 times. That year, he registered his first point with an extra point against UNLV. Pisetsky was the Badgers' special teams player of the week against Illinois when he had four touchbacks on kickoffs. The Badgers rolled through the Big Ten with a record of 7-1-0 and played in the Rose Bowl. In one of the most entertaining bowl games of the decade, the Badgers defeated the UCLA Bruins in a 38-31 shootout. Wisconsin finished the season with a 10-1-0 record and were ranked No. 5 by ESPN/USA Today and No. 6 by AP.

In 1999, Pisetsky took over the full-time kicking duties and had the best season of his college career. He broke record after record for the Badgers who dominated the Big Ten behind Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne. The team finished with a conference record of 7-1-0 and played in their second straight Rose Bowl, this time defeating Stanford, 17-9. The Badgers ended the season ranked No. 4 by both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls.

Vitaly was outstanding all season, breaking school records with 14 consecutive field goals (second all-time in the Big Ten), four field goals in one game, 16 kicking points in one game, and 46 extra points in one season! He was Wisconsin's Special Teams Player of the Year, first team All-Big Ten, and the only player in the country to be a finalist for both the Lou Groza (top kicker) and Mosi Tatupu (top special teams player) Awards.

In 2000, Vitaly, like the rest of the Badgers, struggled a bit throughout the year. Although he still made 28-29 extra points, he was a bit off on field goals, making only 13-22. The Badgers did not seem able to recover from suspensions given to 29 players early in the year and finished the Big Ten season with a record of 4-4-0. They still played in a bowl game, however, defeating UCLA in the Sun Bowl, 21-20. Wisconsin finished the season with an overall record of 8-4-0 and were ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Vitaly played in the All-Star Gridiron Classic.


Career Dates:
Pisetsky was a kicker at Wisconsin from 1997-2000.

Physical description:
5'10", 225 pounds

Career Statistics:
At Wisconsin:
Field goals made: 29
Field goals attempted: 42
Field goal percentage: 69.0

Extra point made: 75
Extra points attempted: 78
Extra point percentage: 94.9

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Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)