Travails of a two-sport star

Mark Buchholz should be applauded for his accomplishments as a two-sport star at Clemson.

On most Friday nights, the Georgia native plays for the Tiger soccer team, for which he is a four-year starter. On Saturdays, he's the field goal kicker on Tommy Bowden's football team.

Problem is, recent misses on the gridiron have local pundits demanding that Buchholz quit soccer.

"Let some walk-on from England take the extra seat on the soccer trip to Maryland this week," wrote Post & Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff.

Buchholz isn't the first soccer player to kick for the Clemson football team. Three other Tigers have done double duty in the fall, including Nigerian Donald Igwebuike, who went on to kick in the NFL.

(ACC schools have a long tradition of converting soccer stars to football. Jeff Gaffney, the player responsible for turning Bruce Arena's Virginia into a national power in the early 1980s, also went on to play in the NFL.)

In a rebuilding year, the Tigers' soccer team needs Buchholz's experience, but questions were raised about whether Buchholz, who has started nine of 10 games, was too tired following Clemson's 13-3 loss to Georgia Tech during which he missed four field goals. (Coincidentally, Clemson has informed the NCAA that it committed a secondary rules violation for not giving Buchholz enough time off each week.)

"I feel good," Buchholz told the Post & Courier. "Same thing. Last week, I didn't miss a kick in practice and this week so far I haven't missed a kick in practice. The coaches have confidence in me. A couple have pulled me aside to make sure I'm not crazy, which I'm not."

Buchholz has been either flying or driving to where Clemson has been playing football on Saturdays after finishing up with Trevor Adair's soccer team on Friday nights. One of Bowden's concerns is that Buchholz doesn't have time to rest on Friday nights and use "visualization" to get ready for his field-goal kicking duties.

"I don't have that luxury," Bowden said. "He's off somewhere playing soccer and his mind's 1,000 miles away from kicking."

For all the criticism, Bowden is sticking with Buchholz, whom he admires.

"He's a tough guy mentally," Bowden said. "Boy, he's really conscientious."

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