A Different Breed of Leadership

Over the last two seasons, Wisconsin's defensive line has been orchestrated and led by the very vocal and emotional O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt. As the Badgers prepare for 2011, senior Patrick Butrym is prepared to do nothing that he hasn't done already.

CHICAGO - With the ambassadors the University of Wisconsin has had on the defensive line over the past two seasons, the shoes would be big no matter who tried to step into them. Relying on a consistent pass rush from the defensive end position over the last two seasons, O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt have been so productive, so outgoing and so outspoken that it was clear that they emerged as leaders on the defense.

Senior defensive tackle Patrick Butrym is a completely different animal from Schofield and Watt. He's a completely different animal than the two Wisconsin players sitting close to him at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at McCormick Place on Friday morning, and that's fine with Butyrm.

The way he figures it, his calm exterior and fiery aggressive on the field has worked just fine for him in the previous three seasons. He's just not a glitz and glamor guy.

"I got this suit my senior year of high school, and somehow it still fits," said the 284-pound Butrym, who is roughly 45 pounds heavier than his graduating year. "I got it with the intention of putting on weight. It's a 280-pound suit, so it's a little tight."

Butrym is a quiet piece to Wisconsin's defense, but head coach Bret Bielema made a bold statement in picking him over other worthy candidates to represent Wisconsin for the past two days. Over the last three seasons, Butrym hasn't missed a game, started all 13 games a season ago and finished second on the team in quarterback hurries, third in sacks and tied for fourth in tackles for loss.

"He embodies everything we look for in a Wisconsin kid, hardworking, not flashy, no nonsense and a great person," Bielema said. "He's really the complete package and represents our program really well."

While recruiting him at Waukesha Catholic Memorial, Bielema didn't think Butrym would be big enough to be able to be a factor on the defensive line. His mindset changed when Butrym brought his 250-pound older brother, Nick, to a UW football camp with him. He left that camp with a UW offer.

"I brought him with me to the camp because he's the one who drove me," Butrym said. "I got that offer from Wisconsin and I remember how excited I was by it. They were always my first choice as an in-state kid. People love the Badgers. In-state people just adore them, especially when they are winning."

Watt is gone, but Butrym excitement isn't. In the spring, the fifth-year senior rattled off a half dozen names of returning defensive linemen that contributed in 2010 that have put a little extra burden on their shoulders. Through a summer of conditioning work and strength training, Butrym is easily convinced that the unit as a whole can be as dominate as the one player the media consistently asked him about replacing a guy like J.J. Watt.

"I told one guy that with J.J. leaving that we were just going to play with 10 guys and he thought I was serious," Butrym said. "It was a clever response I had with all the J.J. questions, and you have to be funny once in awhile."

The funny thing is that the Badgers return three starters and 10 contributors from a defense that ranked 20th in the country last season in total defense (321.77 yards per game).

"I don't know if it was because of the Rose Bowl loss or the success we had last year, but everybody has been moving forward," Butrym said. "I'm excited about the defensive line because they are guys that are just hard workers, make no excuses and just love to play football."

Although he's a different breed than his defensive line predecessors, Butrym is not shy about saying how much he's taken away from their skills on the football field. Noting that the preparation they went through allowed them to play their best football as a senior, Butrym knows that for great teams to have success, seniors have to play their best football.

Consider then that Wisconsin's defensive line is in good hands with the blue-collared Butrym.

"You lead with your personality because if you don't, you don't come across as genuine," Butrym said. "I've definitely taken that from them but what I've taken the most is there mental approach to the game. They had such an exact approach with watching film and working overtime to become the player they wanted to be. They are so dedicated to the game, and they got it."

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