Chicago Sun-Times

Drew Butler learned plenty from his father Kevin

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Drew Butler still fondly remembers the end of his father's tenure, as the Bears placekicker.

"I was the biggest Bears fan ever. I'm still a Bears fan. I don't think that'll ever change," Drew Butler said. "Chicago always will hold a special place in my heart."

Butler didn't exactly follow in his father's footsteps but the path is quite similar.

Butler is one of the top-rated punters in the upcoming NFL Draft, talented enough that he's projected to be selected instead of signed as a priority free agent. His future, though, won't be with the Bears, since they signed Adam Podlesh to a five-year, $10 million contract last offseason.

Still, Butler couldn't be more excited about the next step in his football journey, after a distinguished career at his father's alma mater, the University of Georgia.

"My overall goal is to be a successful punter in the NFL. I want to emulate his career," Butler said, referring to his father. "He won a championship. He won many games.

"Just being able to have an impact on a football game."

Kevin Butler, the Bears' all-time leading scorer, is a radio personality in Athens, Ga., and he imparted plenty of wisdom to his son. Drew has watched with wonder as his father interacts with fans and remains humble about his distinguished career.

"I think that's really cool. It's awesome being able to witness," Drew said. "He taught me to stay humble, never stop working and keep your eye on the prize."

California punter Bryan Anger, widely considered the top punting prospect, was selected in the third round, 70th overall, by the Jaguars.

But Butler is also viewed as a draft-worthy player. He averaged 45.2 yards on 168 career punts at Georgia, placing 60 inside the 20-yard line.

Just as important, he never had a punt blocked.

"Now, it's time to build upon those performances, and take it to the next level," he said.

In high school, at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., Butler handled punts and kicks. As a senior, he was an all-state punter. But, the Bulldogs wanted him to focus on punting, which he was more passionate about.

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

Over the last four months, Butler's worked out to get in the best shape of his life. He doesn't know where he'll end up, but he's keeping his cool.

"I've put in a lot of hard work. Now, it's just wait and see," he said. "You can't really stress out too much, because you don't have any control."

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on April 28, 2012 7:26 AM.

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