Posted: 11:56 am Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Harrison Butker aiming for perfection 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker wants to improve dramatically on his freshman season. Also, he's been growing out a beard since last winter. "My mom doesn't really like it, but she's getting used to it, I guess," he said. (Georgia Tech/Danny Karnik)

Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker wants to improve dramatically on his freshman season. Also, he’s been growing out a beard since last winter. “My mom doesn’t really like it, but she’s getting used to it, I guess,” he said. (Georgia Tech/Danny Karnik)

 

In his sophomore season, Georgia Tech kicker Harrison Butker has a simple goal for the season.

“Don’t miss any kicks,” he said.

As a freshman, Butker was 10-for-14 on field-goal tries and 53-for-54 on extra points. He had two makes from 49 yards and another from 45. His four misses were from 30, 39, 42 and 43 yards.

“I think my leg’s gotten a lot stronger, but I’m just really confident going into the season,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason, so no missed kicks, really.”

If Butker can even get in the neighborhood of his ultra-high standards, it will have been a remarkable season.

Butker worked extensively this summer with snappers Sean Tobin and Tyler Stroebel and holder Ryan Rodwell. It’s Rodwell’s first time holding for Butker. Punter Sean Poole handled the job last year.

“Ryan’s doing an excellent job of holding,” Butker said. “I mean, I worked with him a ton this summer. He’s really wanted to do well. He’s pushing himself. He’s almost looking at himself harder than I’m looking at the holds, and our snappers obviously have a great work ethic.”

Butker’s success depends heavily on Tobin and Rodwell, obviously. His confidence in them at this point will figure heavily in how confident he is taking field goals once games begin, to say nothing of their actual execution. Special-teams coordinator Ray Rychleski challenges all three in a drill in which Butker takes 14 kicks out to 47 yards and the entire operation – snap to kick – has to take 1.25 seconds or less.

Last Monday, Butker made all 14, and each met the time standard.

“I trust him,” Rychleski said of Butker.

Rychleski’s approach to kickers is hands off. He’ll work on the mental side and watch Butker’s steps, but that’s it. He said he guaranteed that Butker could outcoach him on kicking mechanics.

“I’ve been around enough great kickers,” he said. “You can overcoach kickers. If you think you know what you’re doing, that’s the scary thing.”

Part of Butker’s approach is to take every kick, extra-point or 55-yarder, the same. He said he fell into approaching kicks differently according to their distance. With greater strength and improved technique, he said his range, with no wind, is 57 yards. When he was 14-for-14 last Monday, an accomplishment which required Rychleski to do 25 pushups, they went double-or-nothing from 60 yards. With a slight wind behind him, Butker said he just missed.

(It was similar to a drill he did at the start of camp, when he made five kicks in a row, the longest from 52 yards, to reduce the team’s conditioning runs. A video of the kick and the ensuing celebration made SportsCenter. Said Butker, “That was pretty crazy. That was more attention than I thought I would ever get, really.”)

Butker has another goal to eliminate out-of-bounds kickoffs and increase his touchbacks. He put four kickoffs out of bounds last season out of 73, a total he called “not acceptable. That’s awful.”

He also had 30 touchbacks, a 41.1 percent rate, which was 49th in the country. With seven more touchbacks, he would have been in the top 25.

He called the switch from Dave Walkosky to Rychleski was a big transition – Walkosky worked only with special teams, while Rychleski coaches offensive line, so he leaves the specialists with quality-control coach Tim McGrath for most of practice.

“That’s been good,” he said. “I’m enjoying it.”

12 comments
GT-UT
GT-UT

GTRay is right.  As an alum, I'm very proud of our SA's.  Johnson's first recruited graduation rate is perfect, or near perfect...The Golf Team's graduation rate is incredible!  


Butker is another one we can all be proud of.  Scholarship to GT, performing on a national level...who wouldn't be proud if they had a son like him?!  

Whether Butker wins us a game or two or not...all I ask is that the kid stand out there with no fear in his heart, focus, and do the best he can.  


Go Jackets!  

GTRay
GTRay

I love that we seem to have a lot of guys like Butker, with tremendous attitudes, work ethic and intelligence (and I'm including all of our teams, mens' and womens').  But isn't that what we like/expect to see in not just our athletes, but all students?  Makes me proud.  Before anyone yells at me, I'm not saying that Tech is the only school with athletes who posses these qualities, but as an alum, it just makes me proud.


Winning a game often comes down to a point or two.  Heartbreaking example -- remember the Miami game in 2012?  Orwin Smith took a kickoff in the endzone, stuck his hand over the goal line to brace himself,  then took a knee in the endzone for a touchback?  That game probably wouldn't have gone onto overtime (we lost) if it weren't for those two points.  How many of our other games have we lost in OT?  So yes, I heartily agree that Butker could possibly win us a game or two -- you never know.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

It'd be nice not to miss any game tying extra points.

GTDude
GTDude

Butker will win a game for the Jackets this year!!!

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

CPJ may finally have a 4th and 1 delima at the 40 yard line…

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

Typical Tech student, setting high goals for himself.

Hayseed_Dixie
Hayseed_Dixie

@GTDude I'm inclined to agree. 


Here's to some of CPJ's "31 is more than 30" post-game comments. 

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

@unajacket  

Ok Una, lets make this real…game tied at Clemson with 2 min on the clock…and we've been stuffed before on a 4th and 1…kick or GO FOR IT?