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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Butler Did It

Drew Butler knows he won't be the center of attention this spring. Fans want to know how Joe Cox will handle the starting quarterback job. They want to see who will replace Asher Allen and Mohamed Massaquoi and Knowshon Moreno. Butler might not even be the most intriguing player on special teams this spring, but he knows his performance is anything but an afterthought.

Butler is first in line to replace senior Brian Mimbs, who spent the past two seasons making Georgia's punting game a bastion of consistency. While the work might not be glamorous, but Butler said it's his goal to keep the spotlight off himself by seamlessly stepping in to the role vacated by Mimbs.

"Consistency a huge part of it, techniques a big part of it," Butler said. "Those are the two main things I'm working on this spring, and hopefully the coaches realize, 'Hey, Drew's really consistent and we can count on him.'"

While Moreno and Matthew Stafford earned much of the praise for Georgia's successes and the defense took much of the blame for the Bulldogs' failures a year ago, Butler thinks special teams had as much to do with winning and losing as anything. Field position plays a big role, he said, and he needed to look no further than the highs and lows of Mimbs' 2008 season for evidence.

"You look back at the South Carolina game, and I think Mimbs single-handedly got us out of a couple jams and helped the defense out," Butler said. "Then, I don't want to throw him under the bus, but when he's has a bad game it hurts us, too. As reliable as he was last year, those are huge shoes to fill."

It's not exactly official that Butler will be the one to fill those shoes, but after seeing some brief action a year ago, the rising sophomore thinks he has the inside track on the starting job.

"I feel like it's my job to lose, and I feel like my biggest competition is myself," Butler said. "We have two good punters behind me, but I feel like this is definitely my job to lose."

If Mimbs' success represents a high bar for Butler to reach, his ultimate goal might be nearly impossible. Butler's father, Kevin Butler, was one of the top kickers in Georgia history before enjoying a successful NFL career that included a Super Bowl championship with the 1985 Chicago Bears.

The younger Butler isn't trying to compare himself to his dad, but it has crossed his mind that a strong three seasons as a punter would cement their legacy as the first family of Bulldogs special teams.

"That would be awesome," Butler said. "I'd love to get off to a good start this year and take it into the next two, and if that works out, that would be really special."

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