By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – For the third time since 2016, the Iowa football team has looked to the transfer portal to fill an opening at punter.
Former North Dakota State punter, and Kingsley, Iowa native, Nick Phelps became the latest graduate transfer punter to come to Iowa this week.
“It feels awesome,” Phelps said. “I’m very excited to be here and the people so far have been very welcoming. I love the city and everything else about it.”
It started with Central Michigan transfer Ron Coluzzi in 2016, and Australia native and Arizona State transfer Michael Sleep-Dalton handled the duties this past season.
The last time Iowa got a commitment from a high school punter was Ryan Gersonde in 2017.
But Gersonde has punted just 13 times in his Iowa career, all as a true freshman, while battling injuries and falling behind on the depth chart.
The need to look to the transfer portal for a punter has become more of a need than a desire, according to head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Teams have begun to look to Australian punters instead of home-grown, American punters.
“Somebody said we have a punting crisis in this country, and I couldn’t agree more,” Ferentz said on Monday. “I think it was Dusty Dvorak doing one of the games. There are like 40-plus Aussies, I guess. Any of you guys that have got a young kid, train them to punt. Train them to punt. Forget about golf, forget about offensive line. Punter. Good future there.”
Iowa recruited Phelps out of high school, and Phelps had his list down to North Dakota State and Iowa, but nothing came to fruition.
Phelps entered the transfer portal after his freshman season in 2018 was finally able to find a spot at Iowa.
Iowa has had success with punters and the transfer portal.
Coluzzi won the job in 2016 and averaged 39.3 yards on 59 punts, while Sleep-Dalton averaged 41.7 yards on 58 punts in 2019.
“Once I was in the transfer portal, I reached out to them and we came to an agreement that I would join after the 2019 season,” Phelps said.