The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

A dream coming true


As a graduate student, Iowa punter Ron Coluzzi is one of the elder statesmen on the team.

His maturity is obvious when speaking to him, as is his determination and a deep desire to prove people wrong. It’s something that started during his four years at Central Michigan and continues even now at Iowa.

Coluzzi was Central Michigan’s No. 1 place-kicker in 2013 and as a redshirt freshman, was its No. 1 punter in 2014 and 2015.

He was pretty solid, too.

Last year he punted 59 times for a 39.3 average, with a long of 61 yards and 10 punts of 50 yards or longer. He also placed 20 punts inside the 20-yard line and its opponents had 23 fair catches.

Coluzzi averaged 60.5 yards on 64 kickoffs, with 21 touchbacks. His highlight games came from Western Michigan when he averaged 52 yards for four punts, and hit five for a 44.4-yard average against Syracuse.

But Coluzzi’s real moment — or at least his biggest lowlight — came against Purdue in 2014.

If one was to search on Google, “Ron Coluzzi hit” a video will pop up. Coluzzi sent a punt down field and jogged a little too down the field in coverage. He was running away from a blocker who was three times his size.

The ball carrier then came out of nowhere and trucked the punter.

“I was on cloud nine,” Coluzzi said. “I had family in the stands, my girlfriend, friends, and I was just happy. I hit a great punt but that’s just part of the game. You have to be on your toes and ready to go and I wasn’t on that play. It was embarrassing.”

That moment was one of, if not, a hard point in Coluzzi’s life. That hit made it to ESPN Not Top 10 and blew up on social media.

It was a lesson not only for himself on the football field, but a life one as well. He learned to laugh at himself and started using it in his everyday life.

Coluzzi, a marketing and logistics management major, had an internship with Coyote Logistics in Chicago where he sold freight out of a brokerage. He would send the clip of his hit to some of his clients to get them to laugh and get the ball rolling.

“If you can learn to laugh at yourself you can use that in certain situations,” Coluzzi said. “I think you can grow. You just have to laugh, move on, and it worked.”

But when he went down he got back up. Literally.

Before graduating from Central Michigan, Coluzzi knew he wanted to continue punting and move on with his career.

He always watched Hawkeye football games and envisioned himself in Black and Gold. When the announcers of a game he was watching during the 2015 season said Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn and punter Dillon Kidd were seniors and that they’ll be graduating next year, everything clicked in his head.

“I just had a big dream of playing in the Big Ten,” Coluzzi said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity. Iowa has great fans. I just wanted to be at a place where I felt like I was happy and needed. That’s why I wanted to transfer.

“It’s a dream come true playing in the Big Ten.”

His dream came true, and he entered the Hawkeye program as a graduate transfer. After his process of transferring, more haters, and doubters came along the way.

Some of Coluzzi’s old teammates, some family members, and close friends didn’t think he could compete on the Big Ten level or be a force for Iowa.

He then would go back to watching videos on YouTube of players getting knocked down and getting back up to remind him of his own experience.

“People really didn’t respect my decision,” Coluzzi said. “But it’s just what I wanted to do and I did it. I wanted to compete at a higher level and be the best athlete I can be. It was just one of those things where I had to overcome adversity.”

Before the season began Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz introduced Coluzzi to former Iowa punter Jason Baker.

Over the summer the two worked closely on many different skills in special teams. Even though Coluzzi had plenty of experience as a graduate transfer, he still was able to learn and pick up off many lessons from Baker.

“He’s been a lot of fun,” Baker said. “He’s real hungry to improve. A lot of guys this late in their college career aren’t. A lot of times they feel like they’ve got what they’ve got. If you don’t have to commit a guy to work that’s obviously a big part of it too.”

Coluzzi arrived in Iowa City in June just as a walk-on, he is again a scholarship player with a starting position.

Through his determination and willingness to overcome many obstacles and barriers he did exactly what he wanted to do.

For some players, it may be hard adjusting to the lifestyle of a new college program and college campus but that came easy to Coluzzi.

He adjusted quickly.

“From the first time we met him last winter he has just been a really mature, heads-up guy,” Ferentz said. “It’s really been fun to watch him. He’s been doing a really good job and I think the extra benefit for us has been that he’s a more mature guy being a college graduate already.

“We, I think, picked up a really good punter.”

Iowa is in good hands with Coluzzi this season. In football, one always hears about how imperative a quarterback, receiver, or running back position may be, both often times special teams get overlooked.

The Hawkeyes pride themselves on special teams and it’s a big part of success for any team on the collegiate level. Ferentz is a huge believer in field position and having a solid punter who can pin an opposing team deep in its own territory.

Likewise, having a player who can rack up touchbacks is extremely useful as well. It prevents other teams from being able to return kicks and also helps reduce injuries. All little things that can have a huge impact on winning or losing a game.

“A punter who can consistently locate his punts with solid hang time is a huge benefit,” the popular Iowa analyst Hawkeye Gamefilm said. “When you line out there 1 on 1 with the defender, he doesn’t know where the ball is going but if you trust your punter you know where you need to go.”

Coming into the season there was a lot of uncertainty in the position. But, to have the level of performance it’s having now is a luxury for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes have a punter they can trust whose demeanor and presence lights up a room. Coluzzi’s only 22 years of age but when he opens his mouth he sounds like a poised 44 year-old.

Thus far this season he’s getting touchbacks on almost 80 percent of his kickoffs. Coluzzi has only had three returns out of 38 punts.

He has critics raving and looks to simply be another in a long line of solid special teams players.

“I just want to do the best for me,” Coluzzi said. “The doubters don’t matter. If I can continue to do that this season I’ll be happy with that.”

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