It's not that Waukesha (pop. 68,000+) is a small, rural Wisconsin town or that the city's four high schools haven't had success in the state playoffs (Waukesha West won a state title in division two in 2004). It's been quite the oppposite in fact but for whatever the reason, big time schools have stayed away from Waukesha County.
In the case of redshirt freshman Patrick Butrym, the Badgers dared to go where few schools go and found themselves a pretty solid player.
Ranked as the No.73 defensive end in the country by Scout Media out of Catholic Memorial H.S., Butrym has been a man on a mission since coming onto the campus two years ago. He's bulked up (added 25 pounds of muscle) and has paid close attention to tips from injured starters Jason Chapman and Mike Newkirk, tips that allowed him to really shine in last month's spring practices.
"I really embraced the chance to play," Butrym said. "It's unfortunate that guys were hurt but you have to look at is as an opportunity. When those guys get back, my goal is to provide depth for those guys and to keep improving from there. I can tell that I have improved a lot from day one getting reps with the ones and it's helped me learn fast."
Lauded for his ability to find his way into the backfield, Butrym impressed this spring by continuing that same characteristic. Still somewhat undersized for his position, Butrym overcomes the size disadvantage by having a high motor and displaying solid technique, allowing himself to stick his nose into the backfield and disrupt plays throughout spring ball.
"Pat's a blue-collared worker," defensive coordinator Dave Doeren said. "That's the thing you appreciate with him is that everyday, you are going to get a tough guy on the field. He's not big enough yet. He'll get stronger and all that kind of stuff but he gives you everything he has."
With the injuries plaguing the defensive line this past spring, Wisconsin coaches needed Butrym, along with fellow lineman Jeff Stehle, to step into the roll of a first-team defensive player. Bonding with each other in their new roles, Butrym and Stehle spent plenty of hours in the film room together to hone their craft.
"Stehle is a great guy and we gave each other pointers to make us better football player," Butrym said.
Spending the summer working to add more weight to his frame, "the Big Ten is a physical league and going up against elite programs, you've got to add weight and strength," he said, Butrym is looking forward to fulfilling his dream of running out onto the Camp Randall turf.
All things considered, Butrym is doing pretty well coming from a school that doesn't even have its own football field to play on.
"I am not going to be complacent and watch games from the sidelines," Butrym said. "I want to get in the game next year and provide depth because guys get tired sometimes. If I can be accountable and give good reps, I could definitely be in there. I am sure my eyes will get wide when I run out of that tunnel and start taking some snaps."