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Mahwah Native Murray Named Top NCAA Kicker

patrick_optBY JERRY MILANI

Coming into the 2012 season, Fordham's Patrick Murray, a Mahwah resident and Don Bosco Prep graduate, was highly regarded for his punting skills, having been named a consensus All-American at the position in 2011.

What no one knew, maybe even Murray himself, is that he would gain even more acclaim this year for his place-kicking.

After leading all of the NCAA in field goals with 25, including four of 50 yards or more, setting school and Patriot League records in the process, the senior today was named the winner of the prestigious Fred Mitchell Award, presented annually to the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, NAIA or NJCAA place-kicker that excels on the football field and in the community. 

The Award is named for Fred Mitchell, the record-setting place-kicker, Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Famer, author, philanthropist and Chicago Tribune sports columnist.

“It is a thrill to congratulate Patrick as the first FCS kicker to receive the Fred Mitchell Award,” said Mitchell in a statement.  “With more than 750 place-kickers to choose from, we are extremely proud to recognize Patrick among a stellar group of nominees. Patrick led the Rams in scoring with 105 points, he was extremely accurate including from 50+ yards, he received seven Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week honors and his 25 field goals were just one shy of the all-time FCS record set by Nevada’s Tony Zendejas in 1982.  Patrick has focused his community service efforts on children and the homeless. Our Selection Committee is quite impressed with Patrick and we are looking forward to honoring him on February 18 in suburban Chicago.”

As a punter, Murray averaged a school-record 46.0 yards/kick, with 18 of his 52 kicks traveling over 50 yards, including a season-best 65-yarder, while 14 of his punts were downed inside the opponent’s 20. He closes out his career with 186 punts for 7,985 yards, an average of 42.9 yards/punt, the second best career punting average in Fordham history.

“When I first got the call from Mr. Mitchell, I really didn’t know what to say,” said Murray.  “I knew I was a finalist for the award but when Mr. Mitchell called I was speechless. I’m so grateful just to be considered for the award and now to win it is just unbelievable. And to win the award as a Fordham Ram is the best thing I could ask for. This award is not just for me but for all of the Fordham Rams, for everyone on the team who helped me, especially my long snapper, Joe Sullivan, and holder, Brian Wetzel, along with the entire offensive line who blocked for me. I am truly honored and humbled by being named the 2012 Fred Mitchell Award winner.”

Off the field, Murray has been active in community service projects with the football team which includes volunteering for a program where players read to elementary school children in the Bronx. He is also active with the Part of the Solution (POTS) program, working with teammates at local food shelters. Murray also serves as a volunteer assistant coach with the school’s men’s intramural soccer program and has volunteered for various food drives and toy drives at Fordham.

The award adds to Murray’s accomplishments this fall. He has been named a First Team All-American by The Sports Network, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Beyond Sports Network (BSN). He also was named the BSN Special Teams Player the Year and received First Team All-Patriot League honors as both a placekicker and punter.

“I’m very happy for Patrick Murray and his family,” said Fordham first-year head coach Joe Moorhead. “The award is a testament to Patrick’s work ethic, preparation and performance, both on and off the field. Patrick Murray was a vital part of the team’s success this year and I believe that his best days as a kicker are ahead of him.”

The Rams finished the 2012 season with a 6-5 record, a five-win improvement from the 2010 season, tying Fordham for the second best turnaround in the NCAA FCS this fall.

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