Cherishing his last chance

Marshalltown’s Tyler Kluver savoring the moment during his senior season with Hawkeyes

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Tyler Kluver, a 2013 Marshalltown High School graduate, poses for a photograph during the University of Iowa football team’s annual media day event Aug. 5 in Iowa City. Kluver, the only senior in the special teams unit, is savoring his last season with the Hawkeyes.

IOWA CITY — Entering his fifth season at the University of Iowa, former Marshalltown linebacker and current Hawkeyes deep snapper Tyler Kluver is taking time to appreciate the journey of his final year on campus.

During last week’s Iowa football media day, Kluver said there isn’t really one game on the schedule he is looking at that excites him, because they are all his last chances to don the black and gold and run onto the field at Kinnick Stadium.

“As a senior, quite honestly I am looking forward to every game,” Kluver said. “As the time winds down, it seems like it is going so fast. Every game now becomes a bigger percentage of what you have left. When you get down to the third-to-last, second-to-last, last game of your season that is 100 percent of the rest of your career.”

Not only is this Kluver’s senior season with the Hawkeyes, he is the only senior specialist on the team. Former NFL linebacker and current Iowa tight ends and special teams coordinator LeVar Woods said that senior voice in the special teams room is extremely important heading into the 2017 season.

“I think he brings leadership. He has been a guy who, to his own admission, was a little bit immature, but I think he has learned and it has been really fun watching him develop as a person,” Woods said. “I didn’t coach him before this year but I have known him and paid attention to him and saw him, so just seeing his progress as a person has been great.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown native Tyler Kluver, second from right, is the only senior on the University of Iowa football team’s special team unit. He’s joined by, from left, punter Colton Rastetter and placekickers Keith Duncan and Miguel Recinos.

For Kluver, taking over leadership is just something that comes natural, as he learned that skill from the guys who taught him as a young Hawkeye.

“As a freshman I watched guys like Casey Kreiter, Marshall Koehn and Mike Meyer, and they showed me how to do things so now it is my job to do that for the younger guys,” he said. “It’s not something that you have to over think, it’s something that comes with the territory. Now I’m the oldest guy and I take responsibility for our group’s success because I am the one who is showing us how to do things the right way.”

Taking that leadership role isn’t always something that people enjoy doing, but Kluver said he doesn’t mind essentially being the father figure for the rest of his young specialists.

“It’s got its pros and its cons, a lot more pros than cons. Being the older guy in the group is really fun for me, I enjoy it a lot,” Kluver said. “They do call me the dad of the group sometimes which is just a running joke that goes on, but it is true in some ways. I do have to rein in some of the other guys, there are a lot of different things and a lot of different ways that things are done here at Iowa. We teach discipline and exactness in everything we do, so there’s a lot of areas of, not just football but other stuff off the field that you have to lead by example with.”

One thing he can impart to his younger teammates his how to deal with pressure, because as a deep snapper, he deals with that essentially on a play-by-play basis. Kluver said, though he tries to help guys know how to handle the pressure that comes with being a specialist, it’s really something they have to figure out on their own.

“There is a lot of pressure, I will be honest, and I don’t really think I have a good answer for how I deal with it. I think each individual deals with it in their own way,” he said. “For example, Keith Duncan comes in as a freshman last year in a big-time situation against Michigan and I don’t think he really felt the pressure of the moment. He is just in it and he was just kicking a field goal like he’s done all the time in practice.

“Me, on the other hand, I wont lie I feel moments. I am a person who has a very hard time blocking out the severity of situations, but I don’t think it’s something you have to block out, it’s more of a thing of how do you deal with it?”

What really helps Kluvers deal with the pressure of snapping in big moments, he said, is just knowing that he has been in those situations and come out on top before.

“At this point, the biggest thing for me is experience,” he said. “When we start here this will be something like my 41st game starting, so I should feel confident at this point. If I don’t, something would be wrong. I have games like Pitt in 2015 and Michigan in 2016 where I can point to that and say ‘I’ve done this, I am fully capable of completing my job in the situation,’ I just have to go out and do it.”

Another thing Kluver said he keeps in his back pocket are lessons he learned while playing football for the Bobcats. He said coach Dave Holdiman was a great leader and mentor, and having his father, former Iowa lineman Todd Kluver, as a coach on that staff helped as well.

“Coach Holdiman was such a good coach in covering all the bases and focusing on the little things,” Kluver said of the former MHS head coach. “More than anything, as a high school coach, I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time but coach Holdiman hit on the little things a lot and I think one of the biggest things he always said was ‘Friday night’s games are won on Wednesday night’s rest.’ So now I use that as Saturday night’s games are won on Thursday night’s rest, that’s a little saying that I probably still keep with me to this day.

“Having my dad as a part of the staff was huge, he was a coach for me in AAU basketball from when I was in third grade so I am kind of that typical coaches son and I think what he instilled in me as far as competitiveness and toughness from an early age really stuck with me up until this point in my career.”

While this may be the final year of Hawkeyes football for Kluver, he has a chance at making it to the next level as a deep snapper with the work he’s done throughout his tenure at Iowa. Kluver’s mentor Casey Kreiter, the last Iowa long snapper before he took the job, is currently snapping for the Denver Broncos, and Woods said that is something the future could hold for Kluver.

“I think it’s still out there, I’m not going to put anything past him. He snaps a good ball and I think he has potential,” Woods said.

When asked about a potential stint in the NFL, Kluver said he would love a chance to earn a spot on a professional roster, but first he has to have a great senior year.

“I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it, it is something that is such an elite company, especially for kickers, punters and snappers. There are 32 jobs in the world, so that’s pretty elite,” he said. “What it really comes down to is having a great senior season first, if I don’t have a great season with basically perfect snaps all the way through then me thinking about the NFL isn’t really realistic. I am just going to let the cards fall as they may, I will give it 110 percent. My true goal would just be to get in a camp, if I get cut it, cool, I played in a camp.

“If somehow a job opens up and somebody wants me to be their NFL long snapper, I definitely wouldn’t turn down $500,000 minimum,” he said with a grin.