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The Snap, The Hold, The Kick

Holder Clay Sears and place kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick
Holder Clay Sears and place kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick
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Nov. 1, 2011

Written by: Cedrique Flemming, University of Tulsa Media Relations
This story originally appeared in the Oct. 29 edition of Hurricane Illustrated for the Tulsa vs. SMU football game.

Experience is an important attribute to have in all positions on a football field, but it's paramount when it comes to the kicking game.

Most football fans don't think much about the deep snapper and the holder on field goals and point-after-touchdown attempts, but even the slightest mistake can cause chaos on those plays. Having experience at snapper, holder and place-kicker can be the difference between converting a game-winning field goal and coming up short in close games.

The University of Tulsa has seniors in all three spots in deep snapper Bo Abbott, holder Clay Sears and place-kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick.

Abbott came to Tulsa as a walk-on and has been the TU deep snapper for the last three years.

"They recruited a guy to be the deep snapper my sophomore year, but I ended up beating him out and I've been snapping ever since," Abbott said.

He was put on scholarship prior to his junior year, and he is the starting piece of the puzzle on field goals and PAT's. His job requires precision and speed. He must ensure the ball is snapped exactly where Sears wants it, and Sears has never had to worry about that.

"Bo's done a great job every season that he has played. He is very accurate with his snaps," Sears said. "It's good to not have to think about where the snap is going to go, so I can just focus on getting it down for Kevin."

Sears is the glue in the middle. He has to make sure he receives the snap from Abbott, and he then must place it down exactly where Fitzpatrick wants it.

This is his first season as the holder. He came to Tulsa as a walk-on quarterback, but he was converted to tight end and has transformed into one of quarterback G.J. Kinne's favorite targets.

 

 

Through eight games this year, Sears is third on the team in receptions (20), receiving yards (255) and touchdowns (3). He had a career day against UAB Oct. 15 when he caught nine passes for 105 yards and two scores.

"At the end of last season we saw that Clay could hold a little bit, so in the spring I threw his name out there as someone who could be a possible holder," Fitzpatrick said. "He has been great this year in that role, and it's nice to know him and Bo are going to take care of business and allow me to focus on putting the ball through the uprights."

Fitzpatrick is having a banner year to this point. He has been nearly perfect on all of his kicks, as he is 8-for-10 on field goals and 31-for-33 on extra points. He leads the team in scoring with 55 points.

Once Abbott and Sears do their jobs, it's Fitzpatrick's turn to complete the puzzle.

"Kevin has had plenty of big kicks in his career, so we all know he is going to take care of business no matter the situation," Abbott said. "It's nice having experience in these three positions. None of us are ever rattled in situations because we've all been there before and we know what to expect.

"If it comes down to us in a close game, I have confidence that we're going to go out there and get the job done."