Snapshot: Drew Butler

First-round draft pick David DeCastro lined up at right guard and second-round draft pick Mike Adams lined up at left tackle on the first day of rookie minicamp. But there was a third potential starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field Friday ...

... afternoon, and he wasn't drafted.

Meet punter Drew Butler, the son of '85 Bears kicker Kevin Butler and a former Ray Guy Award winner.

Butler is in the running for the Steelers' punting job that's been held at the end of the last two seasons by Jeremy Kapinos, who filled in for an injured Daniel Sepulveda both times.

Sepulveda is currently in free-agency exile, and so Butler, a two-time Academic All-America, signed with the Steelers because he was smart enough to see a golden opportunity.

"I definitely did," said Butler. "But you know when coach [Al] Everest and coach [Mike] Tomlin called me they said it's going to be a great opportunity to learn. I definitely agree with them. I think it's an awesome opportunity for me to get in here and get into these professional coaches and listen to what they have to say and just see how guys like Jeremy take the game on. He's been successful the last couple of years and I'd be glad to learn from him and absorb as much as I can over the next couple months, and that's what I'm looking forward to."

Butler, who will turn 23 next Thursday, was an all-state prep placekicker and punter in the Atlanta area, and went to the University of Georgia as a punter. He redshirted in 2007, punted only three times in 2008, and then led the NCAA in punting with a 48.1 average. He was the first Bulldog to lead the NCAA since former Steelers Bobby Walden in 1958. Butler's average was also the best in the NCAA in the previous eight years and won him the coveted Ray Guy Award.

In 2010 Butler was a finalist for the award with a 44.5 average, and last year, as Georgia's special-teams captain, he averaged 44.2 yards per punt.

He was the first-team All-American punter last season and was projected to be drafted because of his character, leadership, holding skills, bloodlines and, as Pro Football Weekly put it, because he "booms punts with hang time. The ball jumps off his foot."

Of course, Butler got that live leg from his dad, who holds the NFL record for points scored by a rookie (144) in 1985. He set the Bears' all-time scoring record (1,116 points) during his 11 seasons in Chicago. He finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals (1996-97).

"He's been a great help with football," Butler said. "He's helped me out so much to this point, throughout college, throughout this entire process, including getting signed by Pittsburgh. He's given me a lot of tips. I try to absorb everything he can tell me and then take it from there."

Known as "Butthead" to his teammates on that championship Bears team, Kevin Butler was another of that team's unique characters. But the young Butler is more serious and doesn't follow the zany stereotype set forth by so many punters and kickers in football.

"I definitely wouldn't say I'm a different guy," Butler said. "I think I fit in with the group. I've always been a guy who likes to hang out with the team, a weight-room guy. I just enjoy football. I really do love the game. I think the opportunity for me to come here and compete in Pittsburgh and learn from guys and just get into this organization and interact with the fans is the best opportunity possible. I'm excited."

So, why did he become a punter instead of a placekicker like his father?

"It was just more natural to me," he said. "I did both in high school obviously, but Georgia gave me the opportunity to just be a punter, and to be honest I just enjoyed it more. It was more natural to me. I really did love to have that kind of change-in-field-position aspect to the game. Just to have that opportunity to work by yourself and perfect a craft – there's obviously a long way to go before that – but it's something I really do enjoy."

And his favorite '85 Bear, aside from his father?

"You've got to go with [Jim] McMahon," Butler said. "He's the best. Mac's a cool guy. I've talked to him a little bit over the last couple of months. I've seen him here and about. Yeah, he's definitely cool. Dad and him keep in touch. He's the man."


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