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Top MAC Football Players Of 2013: #65, Patrick Clarke, Buffalo K

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes even the shape and size of a place kicker.

In order for most fans to notice a place kicker something has to be going very right or very wrong. If they are not winning games or shaking extra points it's easy for a kicker blend in with the crowd.

Patrick Clarke came to Buffalo in 2011 from Hargrave Military Academy where he helped his team to an undefeated record. He caught the coaches attention at the at the national championship combine he went 10-for-10 on field goals between 30 and 52 yards. Before Hargrave the kicker was a first-team All-State selection in for soccer 2008-09, recording 40 goals and 33 assists in his three-year career.

During his freshman year he sat behind long time Buffalo punter Peter Fardon both players trying fill a hole left by the graduation of AJ Principie. Despite the fact that Peter Fardon was a great punter his kicking game was out of sorts. Finally towards the end of the season, after a crucial extra point miss ended a UB comeback bid against Northern Illinois, Coach Quinn made the call. True freshman Patrick Clarke started making the big kicks

Clarke has the tools to be a difference maker for Buffalo and it showed right away with a perfect freshman season. Clarke went 6-6 on field goals. Many of them kicked from distance through a brisk November wind.

Over two seasons Clarke is 17 out of 21 in field goal kicking and has hit 38 of 39 extra points, the one miss a block by Georgia. Last season Buffalo's wins over Miami and Western Michigan are both owed in large part to Clake's foot.

These are good numbers but what makes Clarke one of the MAC's top 68 players this season is his mental toughness. His few misses have been quite close, close enough to stress out some kickers who might over correct the next time out. Clarke shakes off a miss with ease showing no hesitation on his next attempt. Clarke has never missed two field goals in a game, something that bodes well for a UB team with a knack for finding themselves in tight contests.