McAfee Seeks Redemption

Article excerpt

West Virginia senior Pat McAfee isn't a typical kicker.

The 6-foot-1, 221-pound Plum graduate has the build of a linebacker, the mind of a deep thinker and a personality that keeps his peers laughing.

While previewing West Virginia's game at Pitt, McAfee offered his perspective on the rivalry and his quest for redemption against the Panthers on Friday at Heinz Field.

"Every week it's me versus the ball," McAfee said. "It's not really me versus the team. I'm trying to get redemption against Pitt and the football, I guess."

The football won last time Pitt and West Virginia were involved. McAfee missed first-quarter field goals of 20 and 32 yards during Pitt's 13-9 upset of West Virginia last season.

"I've been looking forward to this game for a while," McAfee said. "I think ever since the Pitt game happened, I've been looking forward to kind of redeeming myself, being it's my hometown."

He's even painted the perfect picture in his mind.

"You'd like to win by a lot, but if it comes down to a field goal, I'd like that situation," he said. "I'd love it."

Not many kickers would like that scenario at Heinz Field, which is notoriously a difficult stadium for kickers.

McAfee isn't like most kickers.

He set a Heinz Field record with a 51-yard field goal against Pitt during his sophomore season. Whether McAfee still owns that record is up for debate. Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby hit a 52-yarder during a preseason game this year.

"Mason Crosby kicked a longer one in a preseason game, which I don't count," McAfee said. "I think I'm still good."

When McAfee heads to Heinz Field for his final Backyard Brawl, he'll run into another one of the Big East's finest kickers in senior Conor Lee. The Upper St. Clair graduate and McAfee are good friends.

Unlike McAfee, Lee has pleasant memories of their most recent meeting. He kicked a 48-yarder before the half and an 18-yarder in the fourth quarter.

"It was just good beating West Virginia and being able to be a part of it," Lee said. "Sometimes, the kicking doesn't really have an effect on the game. In that game, special teams played a big factor."

For the final time in college, the friends will go head to head, with more records to be broken. …