The University of Iowa

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

November 10th, 2021

Chloe Peterson, The Daily Iowan

The south end zone erupts in cheers as Hawkeye punter Tory Taylor and his special teams unit takes the field on fourth down at Kinnick Stadium during a mid-October game against Purdue.

The Hawkeye student section chants, “MVP, MVP” as the Australian punter takes the snap and flips the field for Iowa’s defense.

Hawkeye fans, clad with “Punting is Winning” shirts and Australian flags, cheer while Iowa is giving up possession — an unusual sight before Taylor joined the program.

This season, Hawkeye fans are ecstatic to see the reigning Big Ten Punter of the Year, who averages 46.1 yards per punt. The 24-year-old is now earning national recognition on the Ray Guy Award watch list this season — a trophy awarded to the nation’s top punter.

In Taylor’s first season with fans in the stands, the cheers aren’t something special teams coordinator LeVar Woods is accustomed to hearing in that situation.

“It’s very, very strange to go in the game — the last game we played [at Kinnick Stadium], the first time the punting unit comes out, the fans start going crazy,” Woods said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ and my wife told me after the game, ‘You’ve never noticed that before?’ And, you know, there’s Australian flags in the crowd and that kind of stuff, so that’s definitely cool.”

Taylor had not stepped foot on an American football field, much less an American stadium, before he arrived at the University of Iowa for the 2020 season.

The Punter From Down Under played his first season without full stadiums because of COVID-19 protocols. Now, he is still adjusting to his Hawkeye fanbase.

“I love going out there because it’s great fun, and that’s my job,” Taylor said. “But yeah, especially in the Penn State game to hear them chanting, that was pretty special. But I didn’t really take too much notice of it until towards the end of the game… as long as we’re winning, and I’m having fun and making everyone close to me proud, that’s all I really worry about.”

The 6-foot-4 Aussie first developed his punting skills while playing Australian football. Then, he honed his abilities with ProKick Australia — a company to help guide Australian athletes to college and NFL football.

Taylor wasn’t sure if he wanted to attend Iowa. But with encouragement from his family, Taylor decided to take a chance on living and playing in the U.S. and has emerged as one of the nation’s top punters.