Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 79 of 163

78 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW My dad would always tell me, 'You've just got to learn to laugh about it.' "Eventually I finally figured that out, and now I use it to my advantage. People love it. It's like a great, self-promoting tool to have a last name like that. You're never going to forget somebody when they introduce them- selves and have a last name of Butt." Making A Name For Himself Especially when one of them is on the cusp of becoming one of the Big Ten's best pass-catching tight ends. To be clear, Butt said, there's work to do in that respect, and he's well aware. The work ethic that got him back on the field so quickly following his knee injury is still in full effect. He's up to 252 pounds and recovered from another me- niscus surgery in February — an injury he played through during the season — to take part in most spring ball activities. "I didn't know how much I'd be able to play early on, but I didn't miss a single prac- tice because of my knee," he said proudly. "It's a lot different for me this year because the quarterbacks are actually throwing me the ball, and we're becoming a bigger part of this offense. I felt I was actually part of the reads this time, so I saw a lot more balls come my way. That was exciting for me. "It's a lot more fun when we know we can actually get the ball on certain routes and cer- tain concepts. When you think about Coach [Jim] Harbaugh, you know he understands pro-style offense. He's a great leader with quarterbacks and loves to throw the ball to the tight ends. Back when I was getting recruited and saw how Stanford used tight ends, I was like, 'Wow — that's awesome.' That's how I wanted to experience college football." He'll get his chance, but he knows the expectations go beyond catching passes. He's a junior now, and he'll need to be one of the leaders in the locker room. The running game depends on the blocking up front, every man doing his part, and he's still working on the techniques and funda- mentals to help him go from adequate to good, good to great in hand-to-hand combat in the trenches. Former Michigan tight end Andy Mignery, now a Michigan football radio analyst, has seen progress and has high expectations. "Jake Butt is going to continue to emerge as the leader, as the guy the quarterback is probably going to feel most comfortable with," he said. "His footwork was okay as a first-year guy, and remember, he was set back with that knee injury, so that limited his reps. He was able to do very well in the passing game, but it takes a while to get to full strength on that one leg he injured two springs ago now. "In general, he's got to continue to get stron- ger, really understand the running game and continue to grow in that position, and that's not easy. That even continues after college." Knowing the playbook inside and out and what every man is doing on every rep is what makes a tight end valuable, Mignery said. Only then can he be the well-rounded asset. Butt has taken the challenge to heart. Despite not being at 100 percent last season after injuring his knee in the spring, Butt played in 10 games and ranked third on the team with 21 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL "I really, really want to win something here. That's why I came here, to win something big. I want fat rings on my fi ngers so we can all come back together one day and talk about the work we put in, how much it was worth it when we got to stand up on the stage." BUTT

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