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August 1, 2013

Despite Ray Guy Award recognition, punter Steven Clark still ‘a work in progress’

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra

AUBURN, Ala. — After being in the running for the Ray Guy Award each of the last two seasons, one could say there isn’t much more Steven Clark can improve upon.

Punter Steven Clark has finished as a semifinalist (or better) for the Ray Guy Award each of the last two seasons. But on Thursday, Clark said he still had a long way to go. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

Punter Steven Clark has finished as a semifinalist (or better) for the Ray Guy Award each of the last two seasons. But on Thursday, Clark said he still had a long way to go. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

But Auburn’s senior punter — who finished as a semifinalist for the Guy Award last season and a finalist in 2011 — still found things to tweak this summer, as he and kicker Cody Parkey ventured up to Wisconsin to take part in the Kohl’s kicking camp. Much like a golfer working with irons and wedges, Clark attempted to perfect his distance-control at the camp.

“I’ve always been able to get the ball high,” he said Thursday as Auburn’s players officially reported for fall camp. “I’m working on being able to control the distance based upon the situations and stuff. I went home and kicked a little bit into the wind back in Missouri, just kind of getting more comfortable with all aspects of the punting game. It’s a continual process, and I don’t think I’ll ever be finished, necessarily. But I’ve made big strides over the summer, and I’m happy where I’m at.”

Even before the third-team All-SEC preseason selection attended this summer’s camp, Clark said kicking guru Jamie Kohl has “been a reliable source” for both he and Parkey throughout their college careers.

“Just kind of twist his ear every now and then about what he thinks we might be able to do to improve,” Clark said. “He keeps an eye on us as much as he can. He’s a pretty busy guy, but he’s definitely been a key part in my success in college.”

So where has Clark made gains since the end of last season? He jokingly pointed to his time in the 40-yard-dash, which Clark said had improved from five seconds flat to 4.8. He eventually turned serious, however, saying his focus was to “become a more complete punter.”

Try as he might, it’s a standard the Kansas City, Mo., native believes is impossible to attain.

“It’s always a work in progress with something especially as technical as punting,” he said. “There’s so many aspects, and I try to pin people from the 40, the 45, the 50. And then I back up and try to hit a liner into the wind. It’s a lot of situations you have to practice out of the end zone, heavy rushes — all sorts of things. Whenever you’re able to do all that good (that’s great.) But I don’t think anybody is able to be totally complete.”

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