No one can be blamed for assuming that punters and place kickers are one-dimensional. Lucas Lovejoy High senior Tyler Loop, however, does a lot more than just kick the football for the Leopards.
He puts points on the scoreboard, pins opponents deep in their own territory, gives the offense a better chance at good field position and doesn’t put pressure on them to find the end zone every time.
Head coach Todd Ford believes he has a strong special teams weapon in the 6-foot, 160-pound Loop, who began his last year at the south central Collin County high school with a verbal commitment to Arizona.
“He’s worked really, really hard,” Ford told Texas Scorecard. “He’s been kicking for us for the last three years. He has continued to improve each and every year.”
Calling Loop “a valuable member of our 2019 team,” Ford added that the future Wildcat is “tremendous” at rugby punting and has mastered the art of directional kicking. Loop, Ford said, put a lot of work into his punting since he was young.
“He recognized [his talent], and he went to work in the off-season to develop his punting,” the coach said, marveling at how the senior is able to kick off, hit field goals and punt while others in his position are limited to one specialty.
Loop explained that he assumed the punter position as a sophomore and eventually took up punting as a hobby.
“As I started to develop more in it, it really became a skill I really want to work on,” he said.
Ford has a unique way of evaluating kickers; he relies on his ears.
“I don’t watch them, but I look to listen to them,” the coach said. “I like to hear what it sounds like as it comes off their foot. The good ones have a different sound.”
Loop treated Ford to a symphony.
“Accuracy-wise, he’s absolutely fine,” the coach said. “It’s comfortable to me being the head coach here to know that when we get to the 35-yard line, we’re in field goal range pretty easily.”
The Leopards used to have to score when in the red zone for a number of years until Loop suited up in the red and black.
“We didn’t have a kicker who could kick a field goal let alone an extra point,” Ford said. “He’s accurate. He takes pride in what he does, and I’m really, really proud.”
Loop said that he enjoys his role, expressing delight that his coaches deeply emphasize the importance of special teams.
“I love kicking under Coach Ford,” Loop said. “He and [special teams] Coach [Tyler] Wicke really value special teams, and I think that’s huge in high school because a lot of people don’t do it. Every meeting we have, they always emphasize special teams for special players. If you want to get playing time on the field, you have to perform on special teams. They view it as the separation in the game where if both offenses are good and the defenses are good, they always want the leg up on special teams so we spend a tremendous amount of time on it. That’s been huge in my growth as a specialist so it’s great.”
Loop’s longest field goal was a 49-yarder earlier this season. Ford admitted he will not hesitate to have Loop attempt a long distance extra point should the situation call for it.
Considered one of the top kickers in the nation, Loop received an offer from Arizona last June and announced his decision on Instagram three months later. The Arizona Daily Star reported that Loop is the school’s first kicker of its 2020 recruitment class. He is the Wildcats’ 12th 2020 commit and second special teams commit after long snapper Kameron Hawkins of Orange (Calif.) Lutheran.
Loop’s first connection with the school was meeting the family of ex-Wildcats kicker Doug Pfaff. According to Loop, he and the Pfaffs talked extensively about Arizona. He eventually chose the Pac-12 school because of his closeness to the Pfaffs and special teams coordinator Jeremy Springer’s desire to have him in the program.
Loop cannot wait to step out on the field for the Wildcats next fall.
“The cool thing about college kicking is the same everywhere you go,” Loop said. “A 53-yard field goal is a 53-yard field goal.”
Ford commended Loop’s commitment to Arizona, which was the only school to offer the senior a scholarship.
“I’m excited for good kids who work hard and set a goal for themselves and see these goals be fulfilled,” the coach said. “It makes me feel really good.”
He expressed a desire to fly to Tucson and watch his protégé do what he does best.
“Arizona’s getting a good one,” Ford said.
Having lived in Texas his whole life, Loop said that he is going to miss his family, the people he has known growing up, and the “community feel” of Lucas, which is home to around 7,000 people, when he leaves for the Grand Canyon State. But he is looking forward to beginning the next chapter of his life in Tucson.
“Change is good, so I’m excited,” Loop said. “Bear Down.”