UGA punter Butler could make name for himself

Athens - The family connection is a nice side story: The son of the legendary Georgia placekicker grows up to be the Bulldogs' punter.

But that's not really the story right now.

The story is that Georgia needs a productive and consistent season from its new punter, who just happens to be sophomore Drew Butler, son of Kevin Butler, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Georgia must replace its punter of the past two seasons, the graduated Brian Mimbs, whose 43.1-yard career average was the second-best in UGA history. And with all the questions facing Georgia on offense and defense, the last thing the Bulldogs need to deal with this season would be erratic punting.

Enter Butler, whom the Dogs signed to a scholarship in their 2007 recruiting class.

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Kemp holds steady lead, Abrams considers longshot legal challenge
  2. 2 Atlanta Solid Waste workers: Deadly job with pitiful pay | Torpy
  3. 3 Atlanta mother has been searching 40 years for abducted son

On several occasions earlier this summer, Georgia coach Mark Richt publicly expressed concern about Butler's inconsistency, saying that in practice last year he would be outstanding on five or six out of 10 punts and lacking on the others.

"I worked real hard this offseason, and I think so far this camp I've showed Coach Richt I've become more consistent," Butler said. "I hope I can put his worries a little bit at ease, and, you know, he can worry about the bigger things."

Indeed, Richt seems more at ease about the punting situation than two weeks ago.

"I'm very encouraged," Richt said. "[Butler] really took it to heart when I talked about his need to be a consistent performer. He's got a wonderful focus right now, and his fundamentals have improved tremendously. He's always gotten the ball off in good time, but he has just been erratic, quite frankly.

"And now he seems to be focused to the point where his drops are where they should be, his head stays down, he doesn't worry about the rush. Even on a bad snap, he is able to get back in the pocket and strike it well. I have been very pleased with him. Just keep it going."

Butler, redshirted in 2007 and little-used last season, said he expects to become increasingly consistent as he gets more reps in practice and, soon, games.

"I've been getting better, working on my drive and my technique," he said. "Now it's a matter of me coming out every day and repeating good work."

While many might focus on family legacy - Kevin Butler was an All-American placekicker in the early 1980s - Drew Butler is focused on more recent UGA history.

"I've been talking and texting a little bit with [Mimbs], and he told me that when he came in his goal was not to take a step back from what [predecessor] Gordon [Ely-Kelso] did," Butler said. Similarly, Butler wants to sustain what Mimbs did. "I know his gross average of 43 yards is rather lofty, but hopefully I'll be right around there."

Butler's sports of choice were soccer and golf until his sophomore year of high school, when he went out for football for the first time. With the benefit of an extraordinarily qualified personal coach - his father - he handled all of the kicking duties at Gwinnett County's Peachtree Ridge High: field goals, extra points, punts, kickoffs. But he soon realized that his collegiate position would be punter.

"It was more natural to me," he said.

It also spares him statistical comparisons to his father, who kicked an SEC-record 60-yard field goal to beat Clemson in 1984 and won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears in the first of his 13 NFL seasons.

"Hopefully I could hit a 60-yard punt," Drew Butler said, laughing, "and that could get just as much hype."

If so, his famous father would be among those hyping it, given his role as an analyst on Georgia's pregame and postgame radio shows.

"I doubt a lot of people will be calling in analyzing the punt team," Drew Butler said. "But if I have a bad punt, I'm sure he'll set it straight."

More from AJC