Croot Loops: P Dillon Kidd

The punter deal: 'This is a competitive exercise'

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Dillon Kidd was political in his approach when asked about the opportunity he suddenly has at Iowa.

Kidd, a punter out of El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif., accepted a scholarship offer from Iowa after an extremely short courtship (maybe two days). Kidd was ready to enroll at Florida International in January. FIU’s special teams coach bolted to become defensive line coach at Connecticut.

So, Kidd looked at his options. He contacted Chris Sailer, a renowned kicking coach. Sailer told him Iowa special teams coordinator Chris White contacted Sailer and was looking for a punter.

“After about 50 phone calls with coach White the last three days, I think we both felt comfortable,” said Kidd, whose dad, John, punted at Northwestern before playing a 15-year career in the NFL. Kidd accepted a scholarship offer. He’ll visited Iowa City for the first time and enrolled for spring semester, which began Jan. 21.

Kidd spent two years as a backup punter at Florida State before he transferred to El Camino. After two colleges and one potential college in three years, he’s happy to have a spot in the Big Ten.

“I’m just going to work hard, kick well and have no regrets,” said Kidd, who had scholarship offers from Florida International, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State.

Of course, you know Iowa has a punter. Connor Kornbrath just finished his second season as starter. Kornbrath averaged 40.0 yards on 65 punts, with a long of 55, 27 downed inside the opponent’s 20 and 11 punts of 50-plus.

Kidd wouldn’t talk much about a competition. He’s still getting his feet under him after a wild ride that took him from a California juco to a Conference USA school in Miami and finally to the Big Ten and Iowa City.

But obviously there’s a competition.

“I really can’t comment on what the opportunity will be,” said Kidd, who averaged 38.2 yards on 50 punts for El Camino last season. “[Head coach] Kirk Ferentz and coach White had confidence in me that I was a fit for the program.”

Kidd downed 18 punts inside the opponent’s 20 last season. His two years at FSU were as a walk-on.

Basics: El Camino (Calif.) Community College, 6-2, 230, punter

Dent the depth chart in ’14? —Yes, no question. Kidd's recruitment is all about creating competition for junior Connor Kornbrath. This is punter blood sport. Both will be juniors next season. Winner probably controls the job for the next two seasons. The loser won't be happy. Will Iowa dice up the punting duties as it has at least a couple of times during the Ferentz era? Maybe. One could be the "pooch" punter, if there is a dividend to be earned from such splitting.

Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — John Gallery (Kidd is listed at 6-2, 230, that's a big fella. Gallery was listed at 6-2, 240) scouting snippet — Size-Athleticism: Kidd is a thick powerful athlete at 6'2" 230 lbs, he has clean fast hands... Leg Strength: Kidd has above average leg strength, he is able to hit 5.0 second hang-times on punts over 45 yards in distance... Accuracy: Kidd is exceptional at directional punting, he will give returners very little field to work with... Mechanics: Kidd is very mechanically sound, his coordination is consistent and he can punt well into the wind... Bottom Line: Kidd is a mature and refined ball striker who can pin teams to the sideline consistently, he can also pin teams inside the 10 yard line as well, very good overall punter.

What Iowa said . . .

Head coach Kirk Ferentz on in-state recruits — “It's an area that we think we need healthy competition this spring and this summer, so we feel like we have a chance to have a good football team this next year. I know we've lost some really good players in that area, so we want to add to the competition."

And what's the ideal mix of scholarships in regard to punter/kicker/long snapper: "That would be OK if they're all walk-ons. Like in every position, we're going to investigate what we have to do to have the level of competition that we're hoping for. In a perfect world, yeah. In the old days we'd have specialists come in as walk-ons and earn a scholarship. The thing about Rob Houghtlin, that's how he got here. But things have changed, too. Nate Kaeding came in as a scholarship player, and I'm glad he did. All of our deep snappers have been walk-ons and they've earned it. They've been walk-ons, and they've been exceptional. It's like everything, we're going to do what we have to do to create the competition on the practice field we think is necessary.”

What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .

Kidd will compete for the job. Can he win it? It's impossible to say right now. They're punting inside the brick barn. We will get a glimpse this spring, but it will only be a glimpse. When it's time to decide, there will be notebooks full of materials on both. The ESPN scouting report was glowing. Kidd didn't win the job at FSU, but he has had his nose in that realm. Kornbrath made steady improvement last season, but the fact that Iowa aggressively recruited a punter late in the process (double-digit days of January) says Iowa wants more from the position. A bit of a ruthless move, but, as Ferentz said at the end of his signing day news conference (in regard to a question on quarterbacks): "This is a competitive exercise."

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