Iowa punter Tory Taylor will flip the field in a minute and be off the board early

With the NFL Combine approaching, Taylor will have the opportunity to show out for team executives and out kick the competition. The Iowa product comes from the same college as former NFL great Reggie Roby and has leg strength reminiscent of the former Dolphins sixth-round draft choice. Unlike Roby, Taylor will likely be off the board by the end of the second round.

Iowa punter Tory Taylor salutes the crowd at Senior Day against Illinois, He will likely launch missiles at next week’s NFL Combine and will be off the board by the end of the second round of the NFL Draft,.
Iowa punter Tory Taylor salutes the crowd at Senior Day against Illinois, He will likely launch missiles at next week’s NFL Combine and will be off the board by the end of the second round of the NFL Draft,. / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

Kickers and punters rarely get the accolades that they deserve. They are usually only mentioned when they miss a kick or hit a bad punt. Iowa’s Tory Taylor is different. When it comes to NFL circles, everyone knows his name and they know he can hit the ball high and long. They are going to get to know his name even better at the NFL Scouting Combine next week as he is only one of two punters invited to show his wares and his talents to the team executives. He will definitely be under a microscope.

He is so well-regarded by league officials and special teams' coaches that he is projected by draft pundits not to remain on the draft board by the time the second round is over. That means that he will hear his name is called by the commissioner within the first 64 picks. He took a gamble leaving his homeland, and it is about to payoff huge.

Taylor, a senior was the consensus first-team All-American and Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s best punter. Taylor’s 46.2-yard career average is the highest in Big Ten history.

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."

Tory Taylor, to Iowa Magazine

Taylor started his career in 2020 at an empty stadium in 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.

"I just learned that good things happen to those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and take chances. 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."

Tory Taylor, to Iowa Magazine.

He did take a chance. He was sitting at home in Melbourne mulling over his future when his father saw him deep in thought and told him not to be the kind of guy who spends the rest of life saying, "what if?" He thought about and came to America, to play a sport that he never played before. He was an Australian rules footballer who contacted an association that pairs up young Aussies with universities for tryouts and the rest is history.

Four years later he was standing at midfield with his father who made the trip from Down Under on Senior Day and heard a tremendous roar of the crowd when his name was called and he was introduced.

"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, You either do it or you don’t, and we’ll support you no matter what you do."

Tory Taylor

"I said, I think I’ve got what it takes, and they said, ‘Well, come down and we’ll see, 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."

Tory Taylor, to Iowa Magazine

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is one that is glad that Taylor left Australia and gutted it out. He got to personally witness one of the best specialists in Iowa and Big Ten history.

"The biggest thing I’ll take away from Tory is just his work ethic, his attention to detail, the pride that he has, pride in his performance. By doing all these things he’s set a great example for younger guys, not just punters but anybody who is paying attention. Like this guy I think the best in the country. How’d that happen? It just didn’t fall out of the sky."

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz

Taylor also holds the record for most yards punted in a season with 4,479 years. The previous record was held by Michigan State's Johnny Pingel in 1938. Pingel’s record came 15 years before the Spartans joined the Big Ten.

Pingel's grandson released a statement after the Citrus Bowl when Taylor set the record, which was placed on Twitter by Michigan State reporter Kyle Austin. In part, it read as follows:

"Johnny’s record stood for 84 years, when the game was played significantly differently, and punting more often and in more tactical situations was the norm, the statement said. To accomplish this in today’s style of play is a monumental achievement that deserves recognition and respect from the entire NCAA and sports community."

Johnny Pingel's family in a statement