An Australian punting showcase: Iowa’s Tory Taylor and Rutgers’ Adam Korsak to face off

Two of the Big Ten’s best punters, whose careers began halfway across the world, will meet in Piscataway on Saturday.


Grace Smith

Iowa punter Tory Taylor warms up before a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.

Punters Adam Korsak and Tory Taylor play almost 1,000 miles away from each other, but their American football careers started in the same place: Melbourne, Australia.

Iowa’s Taylor and Rutgers’ Korsak both trained with Prokick Australia — a program specifically designed to help Australian athletes play American football at the college or NFL level — before coming to the U.S.

Korsak was a neighbor and friend of Jordan Berry, an Australian who used Prokick’s services on his way to a six-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

Rutgers punter Adam Korsak sits on the set of Big Ten Network during day two of Big Ten Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, July 27, 2022. Korsak received questions throughout the day on what it means to be one of three starting punters from Australia in the Big Ten. The event marked the 50th annual Big Ten Media Days. (Jerod Ringwald)

“Initially, I found out about Prokick Australia and the opportunity to punt pretty much through what Jordan Berry did,” Korsak said at Big Ten Football Media Days in July. “Especially in that first year with the Steelers.

“Prokick Australia does all the recruiting, pretty much. So, all we have to do is just try to be the best we can be. We get enough film and we try to talk to enough people to where Prokick can put us into a position to try to sell us and try to get us a scholarship.”

Taylor started with ProKick Australia just for fun, he said. Taylor was a strong kicker in Australian rules football, and his friends encouraged him to work with Prokick.

In 2017, Korsak committed to punt for Rutgers. In 2020, Taylor signed to play for Iowa. 

RELATED: Rutgers’ Adam Korsak among new wave of Australian punters in the Big Ten

While playing for their respective teams, Taylor and Korsak have met multiple times — including once in Melbourne in May.

“We weren’t actually punting together on the same day, unfortunately, because it would have been nice to get a few tricks off him,” Taylor said on Tuesday.

Taylor will have a chance to see Korsak’s tricks on Saturday, however, when the Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights meet in Piscataway. Multiple people from Prokick Australia will be in attendance at SHI Stadium, Taylor said.

While Iowa and Rutgers fans alike have dubbed Saturday’s matchup a punting battle, Taylor doesn’t see it that way.

“I’ve never really thought about that,” Taylor said of the punting battle. “But it seems to be coming up a bit on Twitter. So, I’ll leave that one up to all the media and all the fans and supporters around the country that think that, but like I said, I’m just gonna go out there and worry about what I can do.

“Adam’s a hell of a player, but I really don’t have anything to do with that,” Taylor added. “And as much as I wish I could do something about it. I can’t. But I’m really looking forward to seeing all those guys.”

RELATED: Australian ‘Punter From Down Under’ Tory Taylor continues to excel with Hawkeye football

Iowa and Rutgers last met in 2019, when the Hawkeyes shut out the Scarlet Knights, 30-0. But Korsak, a second-year American football punter at the time, made it difficult for Iowa.

Korsak saw the field 10 times that day at Kinnick Stadium, averaging 47.6 yards per punt with no touchbacks.

“You’ve got two punters that can really alter the game,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday. “We spent a lot of time trying to come out of the end zone, I know that, last time we played against [Korsak]. That’s one more thing that’s on the list. That really impacts a game. It’s huge. If you can master that down — it takes a good punt, but it also takes guys on the coverage unit doing a nice job.”

The Hawkeyes had touchdown drives of 97, 75, and 56 yards against Rutgers in 2019.

This year, the Hawkeyes are creating a plan to return some of Korsak’s kicks. Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods pointed out on Wednesday that Korsak has punted 136 times without a touchback — a stat that dates back to 2019.

Last season, Korsak set an NCAA record with 3,299 net punting yards in one season. He’s punted 12 times so far in 2022, racking up 505 yards for an average of 42 yards per kick.

The Hawkeyes lost reigning Big Ten Returner of the Year Charlie Jones when he transferred to Purdue ahead of the season. Following Jones’ departure, the Hawkeyes held a competition between senior Riley Moss and sophomores Cooper DeJean and Arland Bruce to determine who would return punts.

Bruce, one of Iowa’s top receivers, won the job. Through three games, he’s has amassed 69 punt return yards.

Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods walks with Caleb Shudak on the sideline during a football game between No. 16 Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Corn Huskers 28-21. (Grace Smith/The Daily Iowan) (Grace Smith)

“With Korsak, first off, he’s a tremendous punter,” Woods said. “We all saw that firsthand here in 2019, and then he hasn’t gotten any worse over the past couple years, so he’s definitely a very good punter. He can put the ball where he wants to, when he wants to. I think, from our perspective as a returner, we want to be smart with which balls we field and choose to return. Inside the 10, we have a pretty hard and fast rule that we’re not trying to return balls that deep.”

Woods is also anticipating a hostile environment for his special teams unit — something that will be a first for a lot of his players, he said. Bruce will be returning punts outside of Kinnick Stadium for the first time as well.

Woods said the vibe is “never quite the same” outside of Kinnick Stadium, as the adoration will not be there. While there may still be Australian flags at SHI Stadium, Woods said, they’ll be for Korsak, not Taylor.

In Iowa City, fans come to Kinnick Stadium clad in “Punting is Winning” and “I Cheer For the Punter” T-shirts. When Taylor makes an appearance on the field, “MVP” chants rain down from Iowa’s student section.

RELATED: ‘The people that I play for’: Punter Tory Taylor’s family visits U.S. to watch Iowa football

Iowa fans are enamored with Taylor’s punting prowess, but he said his power isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“I feel like I’m going to be a little bit of a smartass when I say this, but that’s something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” Taylor said. “I know everyone kind of goes crazy when we put them inside the 5, but really, it’s not that difficult of a punt for me. I mean, it’s more so just like that touch punt; doesn’t really have as much to do with technique or anything like that.”

The Hawkeyes have seen a lot of the Australian so far this season. Taylor has punted 23 times — including 10 times against South Dakota State — averaging 48.3 yards each boot.

RELATED: ‘This kid is a freak’: Tory Taylor’s 10 punts aid Iowa in season-opening win

Taylor has 1,110 total yards with nine games remaining — well on pace to smash Kosak’s one-year-old NCAA punting yards record.

“[Taylor is] such a tremendous player,” Korsak said in July. “He really is. And you’re in awe watching him sometimes, the way he punts in pressure situations for Iowa, he can put them in good spots. And top of that, even more than that, he’s just such a great dude. He’s a really good guy and you root for those guys, and I’m excited to play. They’re coming to us, and that’s going to be such an exciting game. I’m excited.”