Coach's Corner: John Butler on Blake Haudan

Rookie punter Blake Haudan was not intimidated by coming to a team with a 10-year veteran punter like Jason Baker. Instead, he's amped for his shot at NFL success -- be it in Carolina or somewhere else. For more on Haudan, we turn to John Butler, who leads the special teams at the University of Minnesota.

Blake Haudan waited patiently for his time to shine at the University of Minnesota. It finally came during his senior season in 2009 when starter Dan Orseske came down with mono. Haudan stepped in and helped lead one of the nation's top-ranked units.

Haudan, who averaged 41.9 yards on 63 punts last year, is now with the Panthers. He looks to either win a spot on the team's practice squad or assemble some quality game film, which could help him catch on with another team.

For more on Haudan, we check in with University of Minnesota special teams coach John Butler.

LaShana Marshburn: After joining the team as a walk-on in 2005, Blake finally cracked the starting lineup last season. How did he make that happen?

  John Butler: Sticking with it, working hard every day, improving, waiting for his opportunity. You know, he had a very good punter in front of him in Justin Kucek for his first four years (2005-2008). In 2009, we recruited a great punter (Dan Orseske) who came in and won the job as a freshman, so Blake was going to be Dan's backup. Then, as things have it, Dan caught mono [after Week 2]. Blake stepped in and did a great job and arguably should have been the first team All-Big 10 punter. We collectively as a unit were ranked ninth in the country and a lot of that had to do solely with the performance of Blake.

  LM: One of the things that made Blake so successful was his consistency. How did you help develop that in him?

JB: The whole thing about being a great punter is consistency, not necessarily foot strength. Blake is an experienced guy as far as in college. He's older (23), he's spent some time here, and so he was able to get into his rhythm and stick with his routine. He's a guy who can quickly get back and self correct as far as his playing time and as far as his timing. Just through time and practice he's been able to turn himself into being that type of punter.

  LM: What did you make of his decision to sign with the Panthers?

JB: If anybody is willing to give you an opportunity to showcase your skills in the NFL, you've got to take that opportunity. From the conversations I've had with him, the Panthers gave him that opportunity. There was a need at that position and now he's just got to do the same thing. Blake needs to experience competing and trying to survive to the next day as far as his athletic career is concerned, so a lot of times that's what it's all about in the NFL -- your ability to survive.

LM: What is it about Blake's skill-set that gives you hope he will "survive"?

JB: His perseverance and his mindset in life. You might just have some disappointments in the NFL. You might get cut, you may get released, and you might get picked back up again. He's a survivor that's been through the ups and downs of an athletic career and I think -- emotionally and maturity-wise -- he'll be a guy that can handle that and continue to develop without ever giving up.

  LM: What weaknesses will he need to improve on?

JB: He can always continue to improve his leg strength and his consistency of ball striking. There are only 32 punters out there who are good enough to punt in the NFL; it's not like other positions. Very rarely is there a backup on the team, so you know he just has to be consistent in terms of his day-to-day performance and he'll be fine.

  LM: What type of attitude does he display off the field?

JB: He's a chilled out, relaxed, low-key guy and a good teammate. Two of his best friends on the team were our starting QB, Adam Weber, and Eric Decker, both of whom were his roommates. Eric Decker was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos. Blake's a friend to many of the guys on the team and somebody that became a pretty dependable guy on the football team.

Can Blake Haudan "survive" in Carolina? Talk about it inside the message boards.

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