It might be a worry for some players, or people not of the disposition of Kash or McAfee, apparent mirror images in personality and approach. McAfee, a Plum, Pa. native who will likely handle punting duties as well this season, made 17 of 21 field goals last season including all inside 40 yards and averaged 43.2 yards on 18 attempts. Kash, from Centerville, Ohio, is a 5-11, 215-pound freshman who emerged from spring drills as the top candidate to replace Travis McClintic. And Hughes, a 6-1, 220-pound junior yet to see varsity action after backing up two-year starter Tim Lindsey in 2006, says that the two have meshed over a surfer-style method to the madness that is special teams.
“Jeremy is a good guy, real laid back,” Hughes said. “He will do a great job this year filling in for Travis McClintic and (2005 holder) George Shehl. He is more like Pat in a sense. Travis and George were more like themselves, quiet and didn’t say much. Jeremy likes to have a good time, as does Pat. They are both the same person almost.”
McAfee’s status as team jokester and West Virginia’s resident quotable is well known and founded. He has changed hair colors and styles eight or nine times, by his estimation, choosing to currently sport a sort of flopped over Mohawk that grew out of a quick trimming. Kash wears the military-issued crew cut, but matches McAfee in most other areas, including his penchant for pairing relaxation off the field with a solid work ethic – mixed with comic relief – on it.
“I actually hung out with those guys, and they like to have a good time,” Hughes said. “(Pat) is a livewire kid who likes to have fun all the time. There is nothing two-sided about that kid at all. What you see is what you get. How is acts around one person is how he acts around all. He doesn’t change for anybody at all. He is that same way regardless, on and off the field, in the locker room and weight room. Pat is crazy and a fun guy, but he knows what he is doing.
“He has been punting the ball and training himself well. He is a terrific athlete. He can do it all, anything you want him to do. The kid runs a 4.6 40 and has about a 35-inch vertical. He can run, he was a great soccer player. He is not one to just go out and kick. (Kash) has great hands. He will keep that tradition going, hands down.”
Or up, as it might be, as McAfee and Kash work to perfect minute details. Kash and second-team holder Carmen Connolly have worked with McAfee throughout summer on holds and placing the ball; Hughes as snapped well, and is anxiously anticipating the start of fall camp, which means the end of solely strength and conditioning drills via head coordinator Mike Barwis. It’s also the first chance to test their teamwork against live competition with little more than one month left before the season-opener versus Western Michigan at home.
“We have less than 40 days until we play,” Hughes said. “It’s exciting. Whenever it’s time to go play and practice it makes it that much more exciting. We look forward to getting in the uniform and hitting each other some. It’s what we train for.”