Former 8-Player star Layne Pryor is making an impact at tight end for UNI football

Teammates celebrate the touchdown by Northern Iowa Panthers tight end Layne Pryor (center) during the first half of their Missouri Valley Conference football game against the Youngstown State Penguins at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Saturday, September 30, 2023. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — It took little time for Northern Iowa tight finish Layne Pryor to start making an influence for the Panthers.

After arriving on campus in the summertime of 2021, the Woodbine native overcame particularly lengthy odds to contribute in six video games as a real freshman.

Whereas freshmen taking part in their first season isn’t unusual, it’s a lot much less so within the case of Pryor’s, coming from a small highschool that performed 8-player soccer.

“Eight-man soccer is a very totally different recreation to 11-man, however it’s actually fast-paced, so the ball is transferring round rather a lot which is basically enjoyable,” Pryor mentioned. “It’s a enjoyable, entertaining recreation for positive.”

Pryor starred at Woodbine Excessive College, gathering 211 profession receptions for 3,512 yards and 52 touchdowns. These have been large enough numbers to graduate because the second-leading receiver in state 8-Participant historical past.

These numbers have been, largely, courtesy of his older brother Wyatt, who was the Tigers’ quarterback for 3 of his 4 seasons.

“We had that connection down for positive,” Pryor mentioned.

Recruiting curiosity got here late in his junior yr, and UNI Coach Mark Farley’s pursuit of him as a decent finish slightly than a linebacker, is what in the end made the distinction.

“He’s received toughness, he’s received willpower, he’s received vitality,” Farley mentioned. “For those who had a draft decide, I assure you he’s one of many first 5 picks on our soccer group. That’s how necessary he’s to us.

“And he’s simply studying the sport, man. He’s every part you need in a soccer participant. He’s the entire package deal and the extra he performs this recreation, the extra he’ll get acknowledged.”

Regardless of the actual fact he now not performs protection, Pryor nonetheless is revered for his toughness.

A current social media video on the group’s account requested gamers who they wish to least be tackled by and Pryor’s identify earned a point out.

“Yeah, I did see that (video),” Pryor mentioned, laughing. “One among them was my roommate Matt Cook dinner who mentioned that, as a result of he is aware of I’ll lay the increase on him.”

With regards to discovering his approach on the sector as a real freshman, the 6-foot-3, 251 pound tight finish admitted it was an enormous adjustment from 8-player to 11-player soccer.

“… Coach Farley and the remainder of the coaches pulled me alongside very well to the place it feels regular taking part in 11-man soccer,” Pryor mentioned. “Studying defenses earlier than the snap (was robust). So in the case of blocking scheme, route scheme after which attempting to see what that protection goes to drop into that was in all probability the toughest factor for me.”

Final Saturday’s 44-41 win towards Youngstown State supplied extra proof of Pryor’s improvement as he reeled in a 13-yard landing catch within the first quarter, the second of his profession.

Subsequent up for Pryor and the Panthers is a highway recreation at Indiana State this Saturday. The Sycamores are winless this season, however as an upperclassman he is aware of effectively that there are not any gimme video games within the Missouri Valley Soccer Convention.

“It’s simply staying constant and making performs all through the sport and never letting the second get too huge or too small,” Pryor mentioned. “It’s simply staying targeted and doing what we do.”

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