Pickerington (OH) North junior DE Jake Butt is a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List and has already earned a four-star rating from 247Sports. Though he grew up in Ohio State country and is a Buckeye fan, he's open to Michigan ($, info in header) and made it to campus for the Notre Dame game, which (as you'll read) made quite the impression.
Butt currently holds offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Northwestern, Syracuse, Toledo, and UCLA, and has interest from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Indiana, among others. I caught up with Jake last night to discuss the early stages of his recruitment:
ACE: I know you got a couple offers in recently. How is your recruitment going right now, and which schools are showing the most interest in you?
JAKE: I just got offered by Northwestern and Syracuse. I've been getting a lot of letters from a bunch of different schools, all the way from USC and Oregon, up north to Syracuse, all the down to Miami, I've been getting letters all over the place. It's going pretty good right now, but I know I've got to work hard and try to get some more offers.
ACE: Of the teams that have been contacting you so far, do you have some early favorites, or is it too soon to say right now?
JAKE: It's too soon. I haven't got a chance to go check some of the campuses, go to a game, or go to a junior day or something—I'll go to a lot of those this year, and I'll probably be able to narrow it down based on the campuses and atmosphere.
ACE: I know you were up at Michigan for the Notre Dame game. What was that experience like for you, and what did you take away from that visit about Michigan?
JAKE: Going up there was just amazing. The game spoke for itself. We were part of a record attendance, 114,804 people, just a crazy atmosphere and the game comes down to the last play. It was just unbelievable being there. Michigan's campus is beautiful. We went with my dad and one of my friends, and he loves Michigan, so it was cool to take him up there too.
ACE: Have you been in contact with any of the coaches from Michigan specifically, and have they said what specific position they're looking at you for?
JAKE: I haven't been in contact—I'm hoping to get friend requests on Facebook or our team game tape site, hudl.com, so I'm hoping to get a friend request from Michigan. It's going pretty good, I'm just hoping to get that.
ACE: What are you looking for in a prospective school?
JAKE: Definitely a good football program with good tradition. Academics, of course, and then location—once I go up there to see what the different college are like I'll be able to narrow it down.
ACE: So would you say distance is a factor in your recruitment? Would you rather stay closer to home?
JAKE: That would be maybe the tie-breaking decision. If I get a good opportunity academic-wise and football-wise, I'll go there no matter how far it is. If it has to come down to it, it'll most likely be location.
ACE: For people that are unfamiliar with your game, how would you describe your strengths and weaknesses on the football field?
JAKE: I'm 6'6", 225 and I'm pretty athletic for my size, so I use my speed coming off the edge to get the quarterback and make plays for my team. Then on offense, my strength is probably my hands. I'm a big kid, and it helps that I have good hands. I go down the field, the quarterback throws me the ball, and as long as I can get my hands on it I've got a catch for him.
For my team, each week I find something that I did wrong in the previous game on film and I go work on that all week long. It just depends on the game, what I'm doing well and what I'm doing wrong at the time. I just talk to my coaches and work on it in practice.
ACE: I know your team got off to a strong start this season. How has the year gone for the team and for you personally?
JAKE: We're 5-1, and we were the first ever North team to start off 4-0, and almost pulled it off against Central, the closest we've been since our playoff run two years ago, so there's a lot of good going on with our team right now but we've got to work because we've got tough games the rest of the season if we're trying to finish off 9-1. Individually, I think I'm leading the team in touchdowns, receptions, and reception yards and I'm leading the team in sacks.
ACE: It seems like most schools are recruiting you as a defensive end. Is that where you think you project best at the next level?
JAKE: I really don't care what I play. I just love the sport of football. I play both sides of the ball, so wherever the school wants me, wherever they need me, I'll play anywhere.
ACE: Do you have any visits set up for the rest of the season?
JAKE: Yeah, I'm going to probably get up to the Northwestern-Penn State game and the Michigan State-Michigan game, maybe go to one other Penn State game or another Ohio State game.