Iowa football punter Tory Taylor announces return for fourth season

After mulling over a move to the NFL, the Australian decided to come back to the Hawkeye program in 2023.


Grace Smith

Iowa punter Tory Taylor punts the ball during the 2022 TransPerfect Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. The Hawkeyes became the 2022 TransPerfect Music City Bowl champions after defeating the Wildcats, 21-0.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football punter Tory Taylor was 85 percent set on moving up to the NFL a month ago. But after conversations with his coaches and family, he decided to return to Iowa for a fourth year with the Hawkeyes.

“Although the time is probably right to leave, it was just kind of in my best interest that, yeah, I will be coming back next year,” Taylor said. “Just really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a special year … A month ago, I was probably kind of, I guess, at 85-15, 80-20 towards leaving, but there’s just no harm done coming back.”

Taylor’s announcement came after Iowa football won the 2022 Music City Bowl over Kentucky, 21-0, in Nashville.

Taylor saw the field eight times at Nissan Stadium, racking up an average of 48.6 yards per punt. He downed six of his eight kicks inside the 20-yard line and had three that soared over 50 yards.

“He’s been outstanding,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Watching the growth over three years is is probably the best part, and that’s one of the fun parts about coaching … he had a couple games where he wasn’t as sharp, but I don’t think I’ve seen him sharper than he was today. He was on it just on it every time.”

Taylor came to Iowa from Melbourne, Australia, as a 22-year-old freshman. Throughout his first three years in the Hawkeye program, Taylor racked up his fair share of accolades. He was the Big Ten Punter of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2020, a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2021, and first-team All-American in 2022.

Taylor finished the 2022 season with 82 punts for 3,766 yards — breaking the Iowa football program’s single-season punt yardage record for the second year in a row.

Taylor said he thought his kicking was iffy this season, which contributed to his decision to return to the Hawkeyes in 2023. As a native Australian, Taylor said he prefers punting in warmer climates.

“It’s kind of funny how the weather can just play a really big role in your mindset,” Taylor said. “I know there’s really not anything you can do in terms of that, but when the weather is nice, it certainly gives you a better degree of confidence. It was just a good day overall and was really happy with my performance because I feel like this year I really let myself down and let my team down in a couple of games.”

Iowa punter Tory Taylor punts the ball during a football game between Iowa and Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. The Fighting Illini defeated the Hawkeyes, 9-6. Taylor’s longest punt was 49 yards. (Daniel McGregor-Huyer)

Taylor specifically mentioned he didn’t like his performance in Iowa’s games against Illinois and Minnesota. Taylor averaged 40.9 yards on eight punts against the Illini on Oct. 8, and averaged 42.4 yards on five punts against the Gophers on Nov. 19.

“If I’m not hitting the balls I want to be hitting, it becomes a bit frustrating,” Taylor said. “Although, there were a couple results here that went well. You kind of see from a statistic point of view, I had the inside 20s but the yardage certainly dropped.”

The wind chills dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit when the Hawkeyes and Gophers played in Minneapolis — a temperature Taylor isn’t used to.

While Taylor wouldn’t mind punting in the 60 degree New Year’s Eve weather in Nashville every week, he said being successful in all temperature variations is something that made the Big Ten appealing to him.

“Minnesota was probably the coldest place I’ve ever been, to be out in that weather for that one,” Taylor said. “It’s just ridiculous. It’s not like you just run it from your house to the car, that sort of cold. I couldn’t my hands or toes or anything like that … it was certainly cold, but I love it just because I mean, the Big Ten, that’s where I feel like if you can show that you can perform it really goes a long way.”