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IOWA CITY — Ron Coluzzi is taking the "shield" and "gunners" parts of Iowa’s punt unit out for dinner tonight. No blocked punts in the first four games warrants a meal. The rest of Iowa’s punt team will have to wait.
"I’ll get the rest of the guys next week when my checking account kind of comes back in store," Coluzzi said.
On media day, Iowa assistant Chris White was asked if Coluzzi, a graduate transfer from Central Michigan, was manna from heaven. Iowa had no punter and no kickoff specialist. Then, in late winter/early spring, Coluzzi asked for a chance.
“Well, hopefully, yeah,” White said. “So far, so good.”
— Coluzzi was named Big Ten special teams player of the week after his performance last Saturday at Rutgers. The senior from Naperville, Ill., averaged 42.0 yards on seven punts and had three touchbacks on kickoffs against Rutgers.
— Coluzzi is fourth in the Big Ten with a 43.3 average on 20 punts. His 18 touchbacks lead the Big Ten.
— Just two of Coluzzi’s punts have been returned for a grand total of zero, zip, nada yards.
— Coluzzi’s maximum hang times in Iowa’s first four games have ranged from 4.51 seconds last week to 5.04 against Iowa State.
There’s a reason for the serious hang times on punts. Coluzzi was knocked out while covering a punt at Purdue in 2014.
“After that Purdue hit from two years ago that I’m sure you guys have seen, it’s my goal to put the ball up as high as I can and as far as I can so our coverage can get down there and force a fair catch, so there is no return,” Coluzzi said, “so I don’t have to make a tackle.”
And so, yeah, Coluzzi did take a little pleasure when Penn State kicker Joey Julius, all 5-10, 258 pounds of him, put a highlight hit on Michigan returner Jourdan Lewis last weekend. (Lewis tweeted the next day, “I got hit by a nose tackle that can kick.”)
“That was unbelievable,” Coluzzi said. “That definitely puts kickers in a better spot, making a tackle and not getting knocked at Purdue like I did. It was really cool to see that.”
Coluzzi graduated from CMU with degrees in marketing and logistics management. He loved the movie “Cast Away,” you know the Tom Hanks movie where he ends up stranded on a desert island after a plane crash, with his only friend being a volleyball named “Wilson.”
Coluzzi loved that movie not for the survival adventure part, not for the tearful re-entry into society, but for the set up. Hanks’ character is a logistics guy at FedEx.
“I love that movie,” Coluzzi said with a laugh. “I think I would be doing kind of what Tom Hanks did in that movie, but in different ways. Technology has kind of advanced a little. (The movie came out in 2000).”
Logistics is what it sounds like. “It’s moving product from A to B in the most efficient manner,” Coluzzi said.
Coluzzi has a job at J.B. Hunt, a freight shipping company, waiting for him in February. They hired him for operations management.
“Maximizing profits by maximizing cubilization,” Coluzzi said. “Making lanes more efficient, things of that nature. It’s saving money in the long run, but making sure people are doing their jobs.”
“Cubilization” is the study of storing stuff. That’s probably oversimplifying, but that is the gist.
How does one go to college and come out with a degree in logistics?
“When I went to Central Michigan I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Coluzzi said. “I knew I wanted to do something in business, because my dad (Ron) was a business management major. Because of football ... Every day you have to wake up at the crack of dawn, every day you have to be over here at a certain time ... You’ve got to lift weights. You have no time. Time is valuable and then I realized what major deals with that ... logistics. It kind of just fell into place.”
Coluzzi worked his network and landed an internship with Coyote Logistics (in Chicago) last summer. He sold freight at a freight brokerage.
“I loved it,” he said. “I fell in love with the atmosphere, the environment.”
This works backward as a metaphor for football, too. Coluzzi reflected on the time he didn’t have as a student-athlete and turned that into his major and, soon, his life’s work. Football is the ultimate game of operations management. As a punter, Coluzzi is a shipping lane, kind of literally, and a cog in the great machine.
“At the end of the day, it’s getting the job done and every player has a small part of it,” Coluzzi said. “I’m just doing my part.”
Coluzzi wants to get into compliance consulting with international freight, so he can travel the world before, he said, “I have a mortgage and kids.”
Until then, he’ll punt for the Hawkeyes and sleep with Naomi.
Get your minds out of the TMZ segment.
Coluzzi carried a football into the lobby of the Hansen Performance Center. He said it’s named “Naomi.”
“I sleep with Naomi, I bring her everywhere,” he deadpanned. "I do drops everywhere I go. It doesn’t leave my sight. No ...”
And then chuckle.
“It’s something I like to carry around, because in a game, ball security is very important,” he said. “You’ve got to be very comfortable.”
Actually, “Naomi” is the name of his car. OK, maybe it is.
“I have a 2000 Nissan Altima, it’s falling apart,” he said. “The bumper actually fell off. We’ve been through good days and we’ve been through bad days. It’s like punting. You have good practices and bad practices ...
“I don’t know. I’m a kicker. It’s weird. It’s what we do.”
So far, so good.