Players Adam Korsak and Tori Taylor play nearly 1,000 miles from each other, but their American football career began in the same place: Melbourne, Australia.
Taylor and Rutgers from Iowa trained with Prokick Australia – a program specifically designed to help Australian athletes play American football at the college or NFL level – before coming to the US
Corsack was a neighbor and friend of Jordan Berry, an Australian who used Prokick’s services on his way to a six-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.
“Initially, I was introduced to Prokick Australia and the opportunity to play largely through what Jordan Perry did,” Korsak said at Big Ten Football Media Days in July. “Especially in that first year with the Steelers.
“Prokick Australia does all the hiring, pretty much. So all we have to do is just try to be our best. We get enough movies and try to talk to enough people that Prokick can put us in a position to us by trying to sell us and trying to get us a scholarship.”
He said Taylor started with ProKick Australia just for fun. Taylor was a strong player in Australian football, and his friends encouraged him to work with Prokick.
In 2017, Korsak committed to hunting down Rutgers. In 2020, Taylor signed to play for Iowa State.
While playing for their team, Taylor and Korsak met several times – including once in Melbourne in May.
“We weren’t actually playing together on the same day, unfortunately, because it was nice to get some tricks out of him,” Taylor said on Tuesday.
Taylor will have a chance to see Corsack’s tricks on Saturday, when the Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights meet in Piscataway. Taylor said several people from Prokick Australia will be in attendance at SHI.
While Iowa and Rutgers fans alike have called Saturday’s game a touching fight, Taylor doesn’t see it that way.
“I never really thought about that,” Taylor said of the kick fight. “But it does seem to come up a bit on Twitter. So I’m going to leave that up to all the media and all the fans and supporters across the country who think that, but like I said, I’m going to go out there and worry about what I can do.
“Adam is a hell of a player, but I don’t have anything to do with that,” Taylor added. “And as much as I wish I could do something about it. I can’t. But I really look forward to seeing all these guys.”
Iowa and Rutgers last met in 2019, when the Hockeys closed on the Scarlet Knights, 30-0. But Korsak, a sophomore American at the time, made it difficult for Iowa State.
Korsak saw the field 10 times that day at Kenic Stadium, averaging 47.6 yards per kick without touching.
“You have two players who can really change the game,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday. “We spent a lot of time trying to get out of the end zone, I know that, the last time we played against [Korsak]. This is another thing on the list. This really affects the game. it’s huge. If you can master it – it takes a good kick, but it also takes the guys in the cover unit to do a good job.”
The Hawkeyes had touchdowns of 97, 75, and 56 yards against Rutgers in 2019.
This year, the Hawkeyes are laying out a plan to bring back some of Korsak’s kicks. Iowa special teams coordinator Livar Woods noted on Wednesday that Korsak chased 136 times without touching, a statistic going back to 2019.
Last season, Korsak set an NCAA record with 3,299 yards in a single season. He’s shot 12 times so far in 2022, racking up 505 yards with an average of 42 yards per kick.
The Hawkeyes lost Charlie Jones his Big Ten Returner of the Year when he moved to Purdue pre-season. After Jones’ departure, the Hockey League held a competition between Riley Moss and sophomores Cooper Deggin and Arland Bruce to determine who would return the kicks.
Bruce, one of Iowa’s top receivers, won the job. Through three games, he collected 69 yards back from a penalty kick.
“With Korsak, first, he’s a massive gambler,” Woods said. “We’ve all seen this firsthand here in 2019, and then it hasn’t gotten worse over the last couple of years, so he’s definitely a very good player. He can put the ball where he wants and when he wants to. I think, from our perspective as a return, we want to be We are smart with the balls we put in the field and choose to return. Within the ten we have a very hard and fast rule that we don’t try to return balls that deep.”
Woods also anticipates a hostile environment for his own squad’s unity — something that would be a first for many of his players, he said. Bruce will return the balls out of Kennick’s court for the first time as well.
Woods said the vibe is “never the same” outside Kinnick Stadium, where the adoration wouldn’t exist. Woods said that while there might still be Australian flags at SHI Stadium, it would be for Korsak, not Taylor.
In Iowa City, fans come to Kennick Stadium wearing “Punting is Winning” and “I Cheer For the Punter” T-shirts. When Taylor showed up on the field, she shouted “MVP” from the Iowa State Student Division.
Iowa fans are intrigued by Taylor’s kick prowess, but he said his strength isn’t all he can.
“I feel like I’m going to be a little smart when I say this, but this is something I’ve been doing for 20 years,” Taylor said. “I know everyone goes crazy when we put them inside the five, but really, it’s not that hard for me. I mean, it’s more than just a touch of a touch; it doesn’t have much to do with technology or anything like that.”
The hockey family has seen a lot of Australians so far this season. Taylor has chased 23 times — including 10 against South Dakota State — averaging 48.3 yards per shoe.
Taylor has 1,110 yards in aggregate with nine games remaining—and he’s on pace to break the one-year-old NCAA record for Kosak.
“[Taylor is] Korsak said last July. “He really is. And you watch him in awe sometimes, the way he rides in Iowa pressure situations, he can put them in good places. On top of that, more than that, he’s just a great guy. He’s a really good guy and you root for those guys, And I’m excited to play. They’re coming to us, and this is going to be an exciting match. I’m excited.”