October 9, 2009

Butrym set to man middle during first start

MADISON, Wis. - When you consistently line up at the line of scrimmage and bash into the player across from you, the last thing on your mind is being in position to intercept a pass. At least most of the time.

For Wisconsin defensive tackle Patrick Butrym, that exact scenario played out in the third quarter of a heated game against rival Minnesota.

Gopher quarterback Adam Weber tried to connect with his running back in the flat for a screen, but UW junior Blake Sorensen got in on the play and tipped the ball up in the air.

Butrym cleaned up the rest.

"It was kind of fluky that I was in that position," Butrym said. "But I don't think it was fluky that I made the catch."

The athletic play by the sophomore lineman did two things. One, it gave the UW offense the ball back after Scott Tolzien fumbled on the opening drive of the half.

Two, it represented an ascension in play and skill for a player that now sees himself on top of the depth chart and prepping for his first collegiate start when UW travels to Ohio State this weekend. And Butrym attributes that rise up the depth chart to one thing.

"Reps in games and reps in practice," Butrym said. "It just comes with reps. You just got to improve every week and improve every day. That's been my goal."

And it's one that he's followed through on.

As a freshman, Butrym came into the UW program weighing 225 or 230 pounds. For an 18-year-old kid, those are pretty big numbers, but try telling that to a coaching staff trying to project him as an interior defensive lineman.

"That's something you can't always do," UW head coach Bret Bielema said.

Now, though, well into his third year in the program, Butrym has added nearly 60 pounds of weight to his frame and weighs in at over 290 pounds. A great weight for an interior defensive lineman.

"I believe when I first met him, I met his brother who was like 24 or 25," Bielema said. "And at that time, had put on a lot of weight and I got excited. Mom was a little lady, but then I met dad, and he's, you know, seven foot tall, and then you get excited again."

At the beginning of fall camp, Butrym was one of the players defensive line coach [db]Charlie Partridge wanted to see in his desired eight-man rotation on the defensive line. But, at that time, he wasn't at a level of consistent play that warranted a starting position.

The size was there, but painful plantar fascia slowed him during fall camp. So, with Butrym ailing, both Jeff Stehle and Daniel Moore were listed ahead of him at defensive tackle.

Now being healthy and coming off a career game with his four tackle, half-sack, half-tackle-for-loss and one interception performance against the Gophers, Butrym is the top tackle on the defensive line and there is no place he'd rather be.

"You put in the overtime with your technique and studying your opponent," Butrym said. "I think I've done that. And now I'm starting to see my dreams coming to fruition."

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