IOWA CITY, Iowa - Dillon Kidd played a game of Let's Make Deal during his recruitment last winter. Instead of taking the sure thing, the punter went for the big deal.
Several Division I schools offered a scholarship to the El Camino (CA) Community College product, including Florida International, to which he was committed in December. Those programs pretty much guaranteed him a starting job.
Iowa played the role of Monty Hall and presented Kidd an opportunity for what was behind Door No. 1. That was the unknown of competing with two-year starter Connor Kornbrath for the top spot at a Big Ten school.
Following a spring and summer of competition, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Tuesday that Kidd would be starting in Saturday's season opener against Northern Iowa. The son of long-time NFL punter, John Kidd, had cashed in on his gamble, at least for now.
"It's something I really wanted and came here with aspirations of being the starter. Since January, I worked as hard as I could and did what the coaches asked. And I'm lucky to have the opportunity to play on Saturday," the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Kidd said.
Kidd began his college career with two years as a walk-on for Florida State after playing at North Broward Prep in Deerfield Beach, FL. After failing to secure a starting job with the Seminoles, he joined El Camino and earned all-conference honors in '13, averaging 38.2 yards per punt with 18 kicks downed inside the opponent 20 and 12 balls resulting in a fair catch.
"The coaches made the offer to me as a recruit that I was going to get a chance to compete for the No. 1 spot. Throughout the spring and summer, I've had the opportunity to compete and get reps. I'm just happy for the opportunity, really," Kidd said.
John Kidd played at Northwestern and the chance to line up in front of large crowds in the Big Ten enticed his son to pass on a sure thing at FIU.
"It was definitely a family discussion, me coming here. Wherever I went, there's always competition, especially as high as the Big Ten. It took a lot for me to turn down other offers where I was pretty much guaranteed the starting spot. I have that competitive nature in me and I was glad I was able to come in and get a fair opportunity and make the most of it," Dillon Kidd said.
Kornbrath played as a true freshman in 2012 after coming to Iowa from West Virginia and has a redshirt available. The 6-6, 240-pounder averaged 40 yards a punt last fall with 14 punts inside the opponent 10 and 27 others inside the 20.
Kidd, who has two years to play two in terms of eligibility, doesn't feel he's put Kornbrath far into his rearview mirror.
"It wasn't just a competition for camp. It was something that was going to push us throughout the entire season and the rest of the time while both of us are still here. My goal every day is to go out and hit every punt I can to the best of my ability. And then through that process go out on Saturdays and do that exact same thing and hopefully help our team win," Kidd said.
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz agreed with Kidd's assessment of the situation.
"The two punters, Connor and Dillon, have done a nice job, and really it's a very close competition," he said.