Kirk Ferentz picks front-runners in kicking, punting battles

Andrew Logue
Dillon Kidd, left, appears to have the edge on Connor Kornbrath in the Iowa punting competition heading into this week's opening game against Northern Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – A punter from the Sunshine State is living his dream in Iowa.

"Luckily for me, I started getting more and more in a groove the longer I was here," Dillon Kidd said of becoming a Hawkeye starter. "I kind of started to peak throughout camp. Now, I hope I can keep building on top of that."

Kidd, who grew up in Deerfield Beach, Fla., appears to have won a position battle with Connor Kornbrath and will make his debut Saturday in an 11 a.m. season-opener against Northern Iowa.

"If we were playing tomorrow, Dillon Kidd will start out as our punter," coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "And Marshall Koehn will start out as the place-kicker."

Koehn was competing with Mick Ellis and Miguel Recinos, but field-goal duties were up for grabs with the departure of Mike Meyer.

Kidd was trying to beat out Kornbrath, an incumbent who averaged 40 yards per punt last season.

"I think we've gained ground there," Ferentz said of his special teams. "I'm eager to see those guys compete in game situations.

"It's been a positive."

Kidd began his career at Florida State, then transferred to El Camino (Calif.) Community College, where he averaged 38.2 yards on 50 attempts.

"It was definitely a building process and something I started when I got here in January," Kidd said. "Just basically building on every day that I could … try and kick as many good balls as I can.

Kidd and Kornbrath were listed as co-starters when Iowa's depth chart was released last week.

"We both competed for a job that only one guy can do," Kidd said. "I think it helped us both get better, but the ultimate decision was left up to Coach."

And Ferentz seems ready to give Kidd a chance at kicking in the sometimes unpredictable Midwest climate.

Fortunately for Kidd, his father can offer some advice. John Kidd punted for Big Ten rival Northwestern and spent 16 seasons in the NFL.

"He told me it wasn't going to be as cold as last winter," Kidd said of his father. "I'm ready for it. I know what it's going to be like at its worst.

"I hope the fall can last as long as it can, but there is no problem for us."