116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — What is Tory Taylor’s family to think Saturday when it attends an Iowa football game for the first time and the music that brings Taylor’s team to the field is from Australia’s most-famous band.
The Taylors, from Melbourne, Australia, are aware of Tory’s popularity in Iowa. That grew even more after his Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week performance against South Dakota State last Saturday. But to have the recognizable opening riff of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” pulsating through Kinnick Stadium? What a tribute, no?
Well, it’s just a coincidence. The song was played here before Taylor arrived. Taylor isn’t even a dyed-in-the-wool AC/DC fan. He didn’t even know the band was Australian until his father told him earlier this year.
“It’s kind of ironic, I think, everyone walking out to an Australian band,” Taylor said Tuesday. “Like I always say, the best things come from Australia.”
The best punters sure do, and Taylor is one of the best of the best. His 10 punts for a 47.9-yard average with six stopping inside the South Dakota State 12-yard line was instant-legend stuff. Although, the third-year Hawkeye from Melbourne had already established himself as a special-teams special talent before that game.
To say Taylor was critical in the Hawkeyes squeezing out a 7-3 win is like calling Australia a bigger-than-average island. They’re both huge.
Yet, Taylor wasn’t thrilled with his work against the Jackrabbits. On a scale of 1 to 10, “I’d say probably 7 1/2,” he said.
“I know a lot of guys probably won’t believe me, but out of 10 punts I really only probably liked three or four of them.”
After the game, Taylor told former Iowa/NFL punter Jason Baker “I know the results were great, but there were so many punts I didn’t really like. Especially the second punt. It went about 60 yards but was in the air for about two seconds.
“(The return man) let it bounce and it ended up at the 5, which is a great result. But just in terms of how it got there, I wasn’t too happy about that.”
The best are never satisfied. That’s why Taylor very much enjoyed returning home in May to see his family, but also worked three or four times a week with his old kicking coaches.
Now, finally, a piece of Australia comes to him in Iowa. Taylor’s parents, two of his grandparents, two of his three brothers, and one of his brother’s girlfriends get to Iowa City Thursday and will get the Full Kinnick on Saturday when the Hawkeyes play Iowa State.
Not just Saturday, but for the Sept. 17 game here against Nevada and the Oct. 1 contest with Michigan. When Australians go on holiday, they go on holiday.
“It’s kind of been a couple years in the making,” Taylor said.
“I’m really excited. It’s the one box I haven’t been able to tick since I got here. It’s really probably a dream come true knowing they’re in the stadium finally, able to watch me in person. It’ll be a really special moment for them, more so just for me because I’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen.”
The Taylors began their trip with a stop in San Francisco, and are in Las Vegas right now. Only his grandparents had ever been in the U.S. before this trip.
It’s hard enough describing Las Vegas to someone who’s never been there. Try making college football and the Kinnick experience understandable to someone from a foreign country who has never sampled it.
“I’ve tried to explain it to my mom,” Taylor said. “It’s ‘Look, I’m telling you it’s going to be crazy, just get ready for it.’
“Myself, I never knew how loud it was.”
Taylor left Tuesday’s interview session to go to his Swahili class. Going out on a limb here, we’ll say he’s the only Hawkeye taking that course.
“It’s something a little different,” he said. So is he, in the best way. Funny and down-to-earth. He gave his snapper, his blockers and the rest of Iowa’s punt team a ton of credit for his success last Saturday.
And though he said he likes a couple AC/DC songs, his musical tastes stray from heavy metal. One of his faves?
“Fleetwood Mac, so that might register with you,” he said in a joking dig at the older media members.
“Stevie Nicks, wonderful voice. Can’t go wrong, can you?”
Can’t go wrong, coincidentally, is what Hawkeye fans are saying about Taylor.
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