During the 2013 football season, freshman Jake Butt saw quite a bit of playing time as the second tight end behind Devin Funchess. Funchess stole the spotlight for obvious reasons, but Butt didn’t have a bad year himself.
As a freshman, he had 20 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. His stats were productive, and he showed a glimpse of promise for the future of what he can do as the number one target at the tight end position. Now, that Funchess has moved to wide receiver, the future for Butt starts now.
Well, kind of.
Butt tore his ACL back in February in conditioning drills. While unfortunate, Butt should be back on the field after the first few games, barring no setbacks. Once he does hit the field, I expect him to have a solid year. A.J. Williams and former defensive end, now newly converted tight end Keith Heitzman are mainly blocking tight ends; Ian Bunting is a tall, athletic pass catching tight end, but Bunting will likely redshirt.
I expect Butt do have over 30 receptions, between 300-400 yards receiving. He is a great red zone threat as well with his large frame of 6’6 249 lbs. Also, I believe he will have a productive year as a blocker as well. Granted, that’s not his main priority, he’s a big and strong kid who will add help alongside the offensive line, which based on last year, and those big bodies up front need all the help they can get.
The tight end position is becoming more and more of a useful tool in offenses these days not only in the NFL, but in college as well. No, Butt is not the next Jimmy Graham of the Saints or Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots, but he’s a good tight end, with the potential to possibly be as good as one of those guys down the line, especially with three more seasons to go and prove himself.
That may be a steep task for him coming off an ACL injury, however, but he is talented kid, and he will only improve as this upcoming season and career moves forward. Now, in order for that to happen this season, Michigan needs to protect the quarterback. It will be very difficult for Devin Gardner to get anyone the ball if he’s scrambling around all the time, and of course, if Gardner is always on his back.
Predicting what kind of season an individual will have is tough, but all signs point to an improved season for anyone on the receiving end, especially one of the new main targets in this new and likely improved Wolverines offense with Butt.