Taylor off to successful start as Iowa’s punter

Hailing from Australia, punter Tory Taylor has proven to be one of the lone bright spots on an 0-2 Iowa team.


Katie Goodale

During the Iowa v Northwestern football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 21-20.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Iowa’s freshman punter Tory Taylor isn’t a traditional college football player. Taylor is 23 years old, and before the Hawkeyes’ 2020 season-opener against Purdue, he had never stepped foot inside an American football stadium.

Taylor is from Australia, and before he ever played American football, he played Australian rules football.

“Back home in Australia, the NFL is televised and there’s a little bit of college football and I watched it most Saturdays and Sundays, especially when I figured out that I kind of wanted to give [American football] a go” Taylor said. “Purdue was the first time that I’ve ever stepped foot on a football stadium. So, it was certainly a quality experience even without fans. I didn’t actually realize how big the stadiums were until I got here.”

Taylor got his start in American football via Prokick Australia — a football organization in Australia that focuses on developing and preparing Australians for college and professional careers as American football punters and kickers.

Prokick Australia was founded in 2007 to “help guide and transition Australian athletes to perform at the college and NFL level.”

“It was certainly different,” Taylor said. “So, back home in Australia we play Aussie rules football, and I’d kind of always been a relatively big kicker of that football. Then, a couple of my friends who said, ‘Oh look, there’s Aussie guys over in America punting. Why don’t you have a look into it?’ I kind of looked into it and I thought, ‘What have I got to lose? It’s a great opportunity.’”

Taylor was recruited to Iowa by special teams coach LeVar Woods – who actually made a trip to Australia to visit Taylor last year.

“It was a really unique opportunity to go over there and see what they do and how they’re trained from an Australian rules standpoint,” Woods said at an Oct. 8 press conference. “Very talented young men over there. We got the right one for us in terms of his character and how he fits in with the rest of the group.”

Woods’ visit to Australia is, in part, what secured Taylor’s commitment to Iowa. The Cleveland, Ohio, native had a strong impact on both Taylor and his family.

“He was great,” Taylor said. “He met me and my family, and my family loved him as well, so I think that made it easier, especially for my parents as well just having that sort of person. I mean, it’s obviously hard, especially for mom sending me all the way over here, and kind of being unsure, but that certainly made it easier.”

Prior to meeting with Woods, Taylor had always wanted to play football in the Big Ten for a variety of reasons. Partially, to prove he could kick in the sometimes poor playing conditions of the Midwest — something professional teams look out for.

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Following Michael Sleep-Dalton from last season, Taylor marks the second Australian punter the Hawkeyes have started in two seasons. And despite his inexperience with American football, Taylor is excelling.

Taylor has been one of the lone bright spots on an 0-2 Iowa team. So far, Taylor has downed five punts inside the opponent 20-yard line, and averaged 46.1 yards per punt. Taylor’s longest punt of the season went 58 yards.

“I think you can always kick it further,” Taylor said. “I’m always trying to get better. . . I don’t really worry about it too much, but like I said, I always just try and focus on getting better, and if that means kicking the ball further, so be it.”