Last week, Hawkeyes defensive back Terry Roberts reiterated his thoughts on special teams partner Tory Taylor:
“Like I said before, best punter in the nation hands down. It’s not up for discussion.”
Roberts has a point. Taylor’s 1,110 total yards are the most in the country. And his 43.8 yards per punt are good for 8th most in college football. But the praise for Taylor expands farther and wider than his own locker room. Social media icon and former all-pro punter Pat McAfee has made it well known that he’s a fan of the Hawkeyes punter.
“It is pretty exciting when I check my phone a half an hour, 45 minutes after a game and see Pat McAfee tagged you in a tweet,” Taylor admitted. “Or Pat McAfee tagged you in a instagram reel or whatever it might be. It is pretty cool.”
Evidence from last season supports the notion that Taylor is also a fan of McAfee’s as well. Taylor was caught sporting McAfee’s signature “For The Brand” gear.
But Taylor is accustomed to the support at this point. He hears the cheers when his name is announced before home games. He’s seen the “Punting is winning” and “I cheer for the punter” tees Hawkeye fans can’t get enough of. He might also be the only person that draws a pop from the crowd when the offense goes 3 and out.
But how does Taylor’s success stand amongst the punters Kirk Ferentz has coached in his 40+ years at the University of Iowa?
“I was here when Roby was here,” Ferentz stated, referring to All-American punter Reggie Roby. Ferentz spent time with him in 1981 and 1982. Roby went on to have a 16-year NFL career following his time at Iowa.
“I’m not comparing one to the other, but they were guys you noticed,” Ferentz said. “That really impacts the game. It’s huge if you can master that down.”
Last week Taylor pinned the Nevada offense inside their own two-yard line twice, which is just another day at the office for him. But Taylor said that the past two weeks have actually been firsts.
“The last two weeks was the first time that I’ve actually played in the rain,” Taylor said. “We’ve obviously played in the snow, but I’ve never played in the rain. So that was a good learning experience as well. So to kind of tick that box and just know that, well, I can do it in the rain, too.”
I guess it never rains in Melbourne, Australia. Or at least in the games Taylor played in growing up. Looking ahead at the forecast in New Jersey, Taylor is not going to have to punt in the rain for the third Saturday in a row at Rutgers. (But, who can accurately predict the weather — aside from Local 4’s weather team?)