IOWA Magazine | 12-19-2023

Iowa Punter Tory Taylor Reflects on Record-Setting Career

3 minute read
The All-American caps his collegiate journey from Australia to Iowa by winning the Ray Guy Award.
Tory Taylor PHOTO: CALEB SAUNDERS/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Iowa's Tory Taylor was a consensus All-American this season and the recipient of the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter.

The decision to move from one side of the world to the other to play a sport he knew nothing about is something Iowa punter Tory Taylor says he’ll never regret.

Tory Taylor PHOTO: MAXWELL THOMASON/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Tory Taylor is pictured Sept. 2, 2023, during a game against Utah State at Kinnick Stadium.

Taylor’s first game as an American football player was in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in an empty stadium at Purdue. In his last home game this past November at Kinnick Stadium, Taylor received possibly the loudest cheer of any senior from a fan base that has learned to appreciate the kicking talents of the Melbourne, Australia, native.

It’s a journey that has led to recognition as the two-time Big Ten punter of the year, a consensus All-American this season, and this year’s Ray Guy Award recipient as the nation’s top punter. He’s also in position to be one of the top punting prospects in next spring’s NFL draft.

“I just learned that good things happen to those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and take chances,” Taylor said. “Don’t stay in your comfort zone all of your life. Just try to get out there and do things that are uncomfortable because that’s the only way you’re going to grow.”

“I just learned that good things happen to those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and take chances.” —Tory Tayor
Tory Taylor punting PHOTO: OWEN AANESTAD/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Tory Taylor unleashes a punt during Iowa's win over Purdue on Oct. 7, 2023, at Kinnick Stadium.

Taylor will leave as one of the best punters in program history. During the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl game against Tennessee Jan. 1, Taylor broke an 85-year-old NCAA record for most punting yards in a single season, finishing the year with 4,479 yards on 93 punts. Taylor's 48.2-yard punting average this past season also set a new NCAA record. What makes those numbers even more astounding is, until he arrived at Iowa, Taylor had never played the sport. Taylor, who played Australian football, wanted to try the American game, so he reached out to Prokick Australia, an organization that helps place players at universities in the United States.

“I said, ‘I think I’ve got what it takes,’ and they said, ‘Well, come down and we’ll see,’” Taylor said. “When I first got there, I saw guys hitting tight spirals, and I was about ready to turn around and go back home. I thought, ‘This isn’t for me.’”

It was perfect for him. Taylor was eventually discovered by Iowa special teams coordinator LeVar Woods (00BA), who offered him a chance to kick for the Hawkeyes.

Tory Taylor and his father, Stuart PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Tory Taylor is pictured with his father, Stuart, on Senior Day this past season at Kinnick Stadium.

“His story is so unusual. It puts a smile on my face,” says Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “[In] his first game ever, he was so naive to American college football. It was kind of refreshing, actually. He’s become Americanized now. He’s part of the pack here.”

Four seasons later, Taylor was greeted at midfield by his father, Stuart, who made the trip from Australia for Senior Day. It was a fitting moment because it was his father’s advice that helped Taylor make the decision to come to Iowa

“He said, ‘Don’t be one of those guys sitting in the bars or the pub in 20, 30 years going, I should have, I could have, I would have,’” says Taylor. “‘You either do it or you don’t, and we’ll support you no matter what you do.’”

Taylor has one year of eligibility he could use, but he has said that, at 26, it’s time to move on. But he’s glad he came to Iowa, and he’s glad he stayed for his senior season.

“I’ve really enjoyed myself this year, and that’s why I came back—to be closer to the guys and just enjoy it,” says Taylor.

Tory Taylor with kid captain Nile Kron PHOTO: JUSTIN ELSNER/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Punter Tory Taylor (9), defensive back Kyler Fisher (37), and defensive back Quinn Schulte (30) celebrate with Kid Captain Nile Kron after Iowa's win over Iowa State Sept. 9, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.
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