116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NASHVILLE — If someone asked Tory Taylor about a month ago whether he would stay for his senior year or go pro, he was “85/15 or 80/20 toward leaving.”
Fortunately for Iowa fans, he did not need to make a decision about a month ago.
Taylor told reporters Saturday after the 21-0 win over Kentucky he plans to return to Iowa for his senior season.
Taylor, a second-team Associated Press All-American, likely would have had NFL opportunities this year.
Taylor, who will turn 26 in July, acknowledged the “time is probably right to leave,” but he instead wanted to be a part of what could be a “special year” for Iowa football in 2023.
He also sees “a couple of things that I really want to tweak with my game” in 2023.
The Australia native averaged 45.4 yards per punt on his 82 attempts this season. He had 38 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and 11 touchbacks. Twenty-seven of his punts were for at least 50 yards.
Taylor had one of his best performances of the season in the Music City Bowl, launching eight punts for an average of 48.3 yards.
Six of his eight punts landed inside the Kentucky 20-yard line. The other two went for 50 and 59 yards, respectively.
Four of his punts pinned the Wildcats inside their 10-yard line.
His 48.3 yards per punt against Kentucky was third-best in 2022 behind his 51.8 against Purdue and 50.7 against Iowa State.
The average would have been higher if he did not have to punt from the Kentucky 45-yard line. Kentucky’s Tayvion Robinson fair-caught the punt at the UK 7-yard line.
He experienced “probably one of my greatest-ever achievements” in the win over Kentucky, but not because of any of his punts. He was a team captain.
“It means a lot because I feel like the greatest achievement you can have is by being voted in by your peers,” Taylor said. “A really big moment for me.”
After Taylor’s performance Saturday, Kirk Ferentz joked that “we should have made him a captain earlier.”
Taylor — his humility is nothing new to Iowa fans as he concludes his third season — predictably shared credit.
He is “really lucky” to have Cooper DeJean as a gunner, and he went out of his way to express gratitude for several others who were on the punt unit in 2022 as well.
Jamison Heinz, Deavin Hilson, Koen Entringer, Turner Pallisard, Louie Stec and the recently-departed Terry Roberts all received shoutouts.
Taylor said weather can “play a really big role” in a punter’s mindset. The game-time temperature Saturday was 59 degrees although it did not seem to help Kentucky’s Wilson Berry, who averaged 40.9 yards per punt.
“I was kind of joking around with a couple of the guys,” Taylor said. “I'm like, ‘It's January tomorrow. Is this what it's like in the SEC every time?’”
He may have another chance to punt in warm weather in the winter months, depending on Iowa’s bowl fate in 2023.
“I really think this team can go far, and I just really want to be a part of it,” Taylor said.