Aug. 25, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There is a new kid on University of Iowa special teams.
Junior-college transfer Dillon Kidd emerged from fall camp as the Hawkeyes’ week one starter at punter after a healthy competition with junior Connor Kornbrath, a two-year starter. Kidd will make his UI debut Saturday against Northern Iowa at 11:01 a.m. (CT) inside Kinnick Stadium.
“We both kicked well during camp,” said Kidd, a native of Deerfield Beach, Florida. “We both competed hard for a job that only one guy can do. The competition was a good one, and it helped us both get better.”
After attending Florida State for two years as a walk-on, Kidd spent the 2013 season at El Camino (California) Community College, where he averaged 38.2 yards on 50 punts. He was set to continue his career at Florida International before word got out that Iowa was looking for punting depth.
“I was already committed, was almost fully enrolled, and was approaching the point of no return when I got the call that my special teams coach at FIU had taken another job,” said Kidd. “I called some of the main recruiting guys that help kickers and punters and one called back and said Iowa was about to offer a guy. (They asked) `Do you want me to put your name in the mix?’
“I thought about it and knew the situation with there being a guy (Kornbrath) that had already been here, but when the opportunity came, it was something I couldn’t turn down.”
Being a punter and competing at an elite level is in Kidd’s DNA. His father, John, punted in the National Football League for 16 seasons with Buffalo, San Diego, Miami, and New York Jets. The younger Kidd has been learning the details of punting from the beginning.
“It’s something I watched my dad do from the time I was born when he was playing for the Chargers,” said Kidd. “I grew up when he was still in the NFL until I was 8-years old. When I started being a high school guy and kicking, and found it was something I was good at, I stuck with it. It has helped me get where I am today.”
Kidd says having his dad as a mentor and coach has helped more than him being an ex-NFL punter.
“He helps with on-field stuff, off-field stuff, handling the pressure of the position and how to talk to the media,” said Kidd. “(He has helped me) to be the best well-rounded athlete I can be as far as this position goes.”
Kidd called it a building process with the Iowa program from the time he enrolled at the UI in January, 2014.
“I was adjusting to the strength and conditioning program, learning the Iowa way, and how we do things here,” he said. “It was a good adjustment in getting on the right path. I started getting into a groove the longer I was here, and I started to peak throughout camp and continued that the rest of two-a-days. Now I hope I can keep building.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are still available by calling (800) IA-HAWKS or visiting www.hawkeyesports.com. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and former Hawkeye Chuck Long on the call.