UNI kicker breaking records in his hometown



Matthew Cook (97) has proven himself as one of the top kickers in UNI’s program history during his time in Cedar Falls.

CADEN SHEA, Sports Editor

Not every college athlete gets the opportunity to break school records. A lot of college athletes don’t get the opportunity to play in the very building they grew up watching football. Matthew Cook is doing both. Cook is the kicker for the University of Northern Iowa’s football team and had a phenomenal season, breaking the school record for most consecutive PATs made with 114. 

Cook was born and raised in Cedar Falls and has had a very familiar place in which he has played football for most of his life. “It’s actually kind of similar to just like it was in high school because all of our games, especially the home ones and the playoffs were in the Dome,” he said. “It’s been very similar because a lot of the guys actually came and played here with me – Logan Wolf, Cael Loecher – those types of guys, even Colin Klatt came back, I played with him my junior year, even soccer back to when we were 10. It feels pretty normal to play with some of these guys and I’ve watched this UNI football team ever since I was a little kid so it feels pretty surreal to be playing in the place where I grew up watching football.”

While the kicker is a very specialized position on the team, Cook doesn’t feel unseen. “I don’t feel as overlooked as some of the other positions,” he said. “There’s 11 guys involved every time I go on the field and mainly I’m the only one who gets his name called on the scoreboard. I kind of feel fortunate enough as that. I have guys that have taught me everything I need to know and haven’t gotten their name said once like Nick Simpson and Nate Murphy, they were my snapper and holder for two or three years… I don’t really feel unnoticed, I think a lot of other people do.”

The road to becoming a kicker has come naturally for Cook, who has been kicking around a ball his whole life. “Me and my brother played soccer as kids so we naturally wanted to kick a ball,” Cook said. “When they would let fans on the field after UNI games, we tried to kick field goals, most likely missing. My brother chose to be a kicker in either seventh or eighth grade and I decided to follow in his footsteps… He would be kicking as a seventh or eighth grader and I’d come join him as a third or fourth grader so I probably would’ve never been a kicker if it wasn’t for him or definitely not as good of a kicker as early.” 

Breaking records was never a priority for Cook who just wanted to do his job well and wasn’t doing it for any accolades or praise. “I never knew I was close to breaking any sort of records until people who are paying a lot closer attention to stats than I am come up to me and say ‘You need this many more kicks to get the record,” he said. “I could have never dreamed to have these records from when I was young. I never even thought I was going to play college football until Coach [Ryan] Clanton called me up and said he wanted me to come for a visit. It’s a really unexpected adventure that I’ve gotten to take. It feels amazing to know that the team I’ve watched ever since I was little, I’m holding at least the one record for it. It’s a pretty cool feeling to have.” 

Cook doesn’t plan to stop playing football anytime soon. He wants to take his game to wherever he would get the chance to shine. “I have one more year of football here at UNI… Depending on how that season goes I’d love to play at the next level whether that be the NFL, the CFL or the USFL – I’m open to almost anything. I love playing with these guys and I’d love to get to know a bunch of other people and see what it’s like across this country so if there’s a chance to play at the next level I’d love to do so.”