Brown: Marshall Koehn's leg could do double duty in '15
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Marshall Koehn took a summer-school class and didn't spend a dime for the first time as a college student.
The senior from Solon kicked his walk-on status to the curb and earned a scholarship from Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz after turning his career around last season.
Koehn attempted four field goals in Iowa's first two games and missed three of them. But he dug deep, changed his pre-kick routine and made 11 of his final 12 attempts last season. His only miss, at Illinois, hit the uprights.
"I guess getting the first few games out of the way helped," Koehn said.
Koehn's confidence is in a different place now than it was on the eve of the 2014 season. And his workload could be increasing.
Koehn is in contention to become Iowa's punter as well as its placekicker. A 33.4-yard net punting average played a factor in Iowa's poor special-teams play a season ago.
"Obviously, we're needing our punting game to get better," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Dillon Kidd is Koehn's chief competition. Kidd was 10th in the Big Ten in punting last season at 38.5 yards, and seventh in Big Ten games at 40.2 yards. Iowa was 13th in net punting in league play and 12th in all games, not a blueprint for winning the field-position battle.
"I punted in high school," Koehn said. "I know what to do a little bit. It's just been awhile since I've done it. It's just a matter of repeating and repeating, and getting good at it again. I feel like I'm getting back into the punting groove a little bit. I'm trying to be consistent with my drop."
Koehn's leg power showed on kickoffs last season. His touchback percentage of 63.2 percent led the Big Ten and ranked eighth nationally. If he beats out Kidd for punting duties, one question remains: Will Koehn's leg be able to handle all the work?
"I hope so," Koehn said. "I'm just trying to watch my reps. I used to kick a lot of field goals in practice. Now I'm just trying to tone it down."
Ferentz said that stretching Koehn too thin is a concern.
"That is something we have to talk about as we move forward," Ferentz said. "The other thing I would counter it with is with a guy like Nate Kaeding. He and Marshall are cut from the same cloth."
Kaeding, an all-American placekicker at Iowa who parlayed that success into a long NFL career, was a multi-sport star in high school at Iowa City West. Koehn was also a multi-sport star at Solon.
"He's just a good all-around athlete and he is used to competing," Ferentz said of Koehn. "He played 70 to 80 snaps in high school. I don't think it will be a big factor. If he does win the punting job, we have to make sure we aren't hurting him so he can compete at the level he wants to be at. We want to be fair to him."
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow Rick on Twitter @ByRickBrown.