IOWA CITY – With the exception of one brief moment when he turned receiver in Iowa’s rout of Ohio State, Tyler Kluver has been living every long snapper’s dream.
The Hawkeye senior has went about his business quietly throughout his college career, crediting former Iowa long snapper Casey Kreiter for positioning him to have the type of career he has enjoyed.
“The best thing for a long snapper is to never be noticed and Casey helped get me ready to make sure it happened that way,’’ Kluver said, referencing the former Central DeWitt prep who is now the long snapper for the Denver Broncos.
Now preparing for the Pinstripe Bowl and his final game in an Iowa uniform, Kluver has been a consistent contributor throughout his career since walking on at Iowa from Marshalltown High School where he played linebacker and running back in addition to handling all snaps.
He has handled deep snaps for all punts, field goals and PAT attempts for Iowa over the past four seasons, putting to work what he learned as he redshirted as a freshman in 2013 as Kreiter completed his three seasons as Iowa’s starter.
“The way Kreiter worked at it every day, the way he prepared on and off the field, it taught me a lot that season,’’ Kluver said. “He showed me how preparation translates into a high level of performance and my goal coming in was to do what he had done – do my job, do it effectively and get out of here without drawing too much attention to myself.’’
With the exception of the fake field goal attempt the Hawkeye successfully executed for a first down against the Buckeyes – an 18-yard pass that thrown by holder Colten Rastetter to Kluver at the Buckeyes’ 2-yard line – it has been mission accomplished on the quiet side for Kluver.
He called his brief, but effective pass-catching career as “a chance to do something cool,’’ a memory of his own from a memorable 55-24 pounding of the third-rated Buckeyes.
“As I was running, I could hear the crowd. The volume just went up. They knew something was up. I had to make a play,’’ Kluver said.
Then, after setting up a touchdown which gave Iowa a three-score lead in the third quarter, he went back to work.
Kluver compares the preparation he goes through on a daily basis to what a basketball player does while working on free throws.
The constant repetition and repeated body motion creates consistency which leads to success.
During the offseason, Kluver estimates that he will snap the ball to an Iowa holder 75-to-100 times a day. The volume decreases during the season, but the expectation of consistency is heightened.
“It’s one motion, over and over again, so with enough reps you should get good at it,’’ Kluver said.
His eyes are focused on the football for about 10 yards once he snaps it, then Kluver must be in position to raise his head and move downfield to be ready to make a tackle.
He’s at a point where he can sense if the ball is being delivered the way it needs to be delivered as it leaves his hands.
“It’s a feeling. You can just tell and when it’s not there, you know that, too, and if it’s really not there, everybody in the stadium knows it,’’ Kluver said. “That’s what you work to avoid.’’
That hasn’t been an issue for Kluver.
He has helped make the position a reliable part of Iowa’s special teams, just what he hoped would happen as he watched and learned from Kreiter.
“Casey set the bar pretty high and hopefully I’ve lived up to the standard that he set. I still value what I learned from him,’’ Kluver said. “He got me ready to compete here and as a senior, part of it for me is to get the guys behind me ready to go, too, so they can have the same experiences that I’ve been fortunate to have the past four years.’’