August 10, 2009

Butler ready for his chance

If Drew Butler's golf game is any indication, the redshirt sophomore should be in for quite a year in his first season as Georgia's starting punter.

He recently lowered his handicap to a six and just missed a hole-in-one on a par-four at the Georgia Club during the recent Bulldogs Battle Breast Cancer tournament.

Oh yeah, Butler's four-man team won the tournament with a 19-under par.

While congratulations are certainly in order, ultimately Butler will be judged by how well he punts the football on Saturday afternoons.

After backing up Brian Mimbs, the job as Georgia's starting punter is Butler's to lose, and that knowledge alone has the son of former Bulldog great Kevin Butler excited and ready to go.

"I haven't started since high school so it's been since 2006, I guess. But it brings your confidence back when you get a lot more reps so that builds confidence, too," Drew Butler said. "Getting reps with the ones, getting to practice more, you get out there and you do good things and you just want to repeat it more. So far we've done a good job at that."

Like most kickers, Butler adhered to his own schedule during the summer, kicking twice a week in June to kicking three times a week in July heading into preseason camp.

But the way the graduate of Peachtree Ridge High tells it, Butler's summer wasn't spent focusing on getting a set number of kicks in.

"Right now preseason I'm just kicking for quality instead of for quantity. If I go out there and kick 15 solid balls I'll call it a day, if I need 30 or 50 I'll take my time," Butler said. "In preseason its quality over quantity and so far that's been my focus."

That's a lesson he learned from watching Mimbs kick the previous two seasons.

"Brian came in here as a walk-on, fending off me in my freshman year and got to kick that first game over Oklahoma State. But as far as the mental aspect he showed me a lot, stepping up his junior year and senior year," Butler said. "It's all about consistency. He showed me what it takes to be effective week in and week out. I know what it takes now."

Butler has been on the field before.

As Georgia's designated "pooch kicker," Butler appeared in three games for the Bulldogs last fall punting a total of three times, the first coming against South Carolina which resulted in a 38-yard touchback against the Gamecocks.

Butler admits the adrenalin was flowing.

"It was a lot of fun. When they gave me the pooch-punt role I thought I'd get around 10 chances or so, but in the first two games I didn't get to kick until that first game against South Carolina. "I guess I got a little excited because I hit it a little deep but it was a lot of fun. It was cool to have that energy rush."

Buter knows the pressure is on.

As one of three kickers on scholarship (Blair Walsh and Brandon Bogotay are the others), one would think that would be an added burden for which with Butler to deal.

But as the son of a former kicking great, he learned a long time ago not to worry about things you cannot control.

"I wouldn't say there's extra pressure (because he signed a scholarship). I think it's pretty cool," Butler said. "Special teams have always played an important role here (coaches) and if they can find the guy they want in high school, tell him he's important by offering a scholarship I think it's a pretty cool thing. It may put a little pressure on you but it also instills confidence. Right now that's something I have plenty of."

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