2013 Recruiting: Jake Butt

Submitted by Brian on July 9th, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson.

Pickerington, OH – 6'6", 231



4*, #145 overall
#5 TE


4*, #144 overall
#5 TE, #8 OH


4*, #179 overall
#4 TE, #8 OH


3*, NR overall
#14 TE, #23 OH

Other Suitors

Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, NW, Tenn, Iowa, Notre Dame

YMRMFSPA Kyle Rudolph/Tyler Eifert
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post. Ace interviews him.

Early enrollee. Army AA. Twitter.


Senior highlights:

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes Al Borges sits in his basement watching film of the various tight ends and H-backs he's brought in and starts laughing maniacally? Dumb question. Better question: does Al Borges do anything but?

Yes. He goes to a lot of hockey games, for one. But anyway.

This site has proposed that Al Borges's goal as an offensive coordinator is to whipsaw defenses from one end of the spectrum to the other, and guys like Funchess and Jake Butt are key in this effort. You're a Michigan fan, so let me just mention the names Rudolph and Eifert. You get it. Tyler Eifert in particular was used as both a traditional tight end and a oh-god-I'm-5'9"-this-is-a-geological-feature-I'm-checking outside receiver in his last couple years at Notre Dame. Mismatch is the watchword here, and Michigan's going to keep bringing in and bulking up 6'6" guys until they get it. When Mark Porter needed a comparable, he went to the ND well:

“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”

In Butt Michigan has… well, that guy or Devin Funchess again. Scouting reports consistently praise his receiving skills before the end bit where they mention that he's a glorified wide receiver at the moment. ESPN:

…lean and will need to fill out his lengthy frame and add a good deal more mass. … He is not one of those receivers who just effortlessly plucks the ball from the air, but overall he does have a good pair of hands and will work to catch the ball away from his body when he can. … excellent arm length and demonstrates the ability to extend and catch the ball outside of his frame. He will do a good job of going up to get the ball and with his height he can be a tough matchup in jump ball situations. He displays above average straight-line speed, and while he needs to keep developing as a route runner he does display good movement skills in space. …  will also need to contribute as an inline blocker and that will likely need some development in this area…. will need to continue to improve playing strength, lower pad level and work to deliver a pop with explosive hip roll on contact.

ESPN isn't as gushy as a couple other evaluators are about the receiving aspect to Butt's game. In an environment where erratic quarterback play can distort receiver stats extensively—especially for guys who make their living in the middle of the field, where interceptions lurk—Butt was crazy productive, with 68 catches for over 900 yards as a senior. While that's not quite Drake Harris carpet-bombing, I've been doing these a long time and usually tight end have stats like 15 catches for 200 yards because asking a high school quarterback to throw to a tight end is basically asking him to throw a pick-six.

Anyway, those stats come from a polished receiving package. Scout's eval notes body control, hands, and concentration as assets:

Has the height, athleticism and hands to be a real receiving threat from the tight end spot. Does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and can go up high to make grabs in traffic. Runs good routes and isn't afraid to run into traffic. Is a tough, aggressive and willing blocker who just needs to add some strength and bulk to improve in that department.

He earned an Opening invite off his performance at an NFTC in Champaign:

TE: Jake Butt, 6-6, 231, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio)
Breakdown: Butt was unstoppable off the line and looked like a receiver in the open field. The Michigan commit is one of the most polished tight ends seen on the NFTC tour this year.

Rivals named him to their list of "Summer Standouts" after a "terrific" camp season and a performance at the Opening at which he "more than held his own."

Scout on the occasion of his Army selection:

He has excellent size and speed and shows the ability to run, showing excellent body control, concentration and field awareness. He has decent speed for a big receiver. Butt is dependable and showed at the The Opening that he can be a valuable target in the passing game.

Butt was picked for the Army game but missed most of the practice week and the event itself with a cartilage issue in his ankle. In the brief period of time he showed out, he impressed Helmholdt:

"He went Monday and looked outstanding, both in blocking drills and running patterns. He is so well rounded. He definitely has the ability to handle defensive ends from the tight end spot, blocking, then on pass patterns, he has great ability to go downfield and make catches.

"One time he was 40 yards downfield, and I swore the ball was overthrown. He never broke stride, caught it over his shoulder. He's going to be a very accomplished pass catcher."

247 was a voice of dissent, and since I don't think the national guys are crazy enough to let anyone from Bucknuts near their rankings (Butt dropped from 10th in their eyes to 21st over the course of that senior season in which he was putting up 900 receiving yards as a TE) I'm guessing that meh evaluation is based on this Todd Worly evaluation that evaluates him as a defensive player as much as an offensive one and knocks his "inconsistent" motor, which, like, come on: guy is on the field for every play. The tight end bit:

He wasn't forced to attempt any highlight-reel catches Friday night, but he clearly possesses reliable hands, as he's comfortable catching the ball outside his frame on a consistent basis.

Weaknesses: He is pretty raw at this point, and will need some time to develop in Ann Arbor. While he possesses the ability to bend, he doesn't consistently play with it.

He is not a dominating blocker at the high school level because his get off isn't overly explosive, and he doesn't regularly play with the knee bend he's naturally capable of.

I didn't see anything else on their site to indicate why they were the outlier here. The focus there seems more on the blocking and his overall play, not his potential as a seam-stretching guy. FWIW.

Butt enrolled early and weighed in at around 230, so if Michigan deploys him this year that is suboptimal. As Funchess discovered last year, if you can't block a linebacker you're just a large, slow wide receiver instead of a matchup nightmare. Butt may find a role as the other tight end in certain sets. Let's let him explain it:

“They are going to play me at the “Y” and “U” positions on offense,” said Butt. “The “Y” is more like a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage and the “U” position is more of a hybrid that can be moved around everywhere and even line up in the backfield. I’m really excited about it because that will give me a chance to show my versatility and also help out as a blocker.”

Michigan's tight ends on a continuum from Y to U: AJ Williams, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill. Insofar as the U position degenerates into a fullback-with-benefits situation you can add Shallman, Kerridge, and Houma to the U end of the list.

Early, Butt will moonlight as a passing-oriented U-TE, adding the capability to play inline as he moves into his upperclass years. Given the comments about his frame above, Funchess's surprisingly static weight, and Butt's trajectory

"On offense, we use him as a tight end, we flex him out and use him in the backfield as an H-Back to block out counter plays," Phillips said. He's a terrific athlete. He's our starting outside linebacker as well, and we very rarely sub him out. He's in great shape. The thing about Jake is, he's only 16, he just turned 16. He's 225 pounds now, and he was 190 a year ago - he could easily be 245 a year from now."

…it won't be a surprise if Butt ends up being a bigger guy than Funchess as early as next year. That was February 2012; a year later Michigan listed him at 231, but get him in a college weight program and muscles expand.

Meanwhile in guys with the opposite of character issues, Butt sports a 3.8 GPA, had that Stanford offer, and gets an impressive rapturous coach quote even for the genre:

"Jake is a tremendous worker, in the weight room and on the field," Phillips said. "I've coached numerous Division-I players and four guys that went to the NFL, and Jake is a harder worker than all of them."

Take #2:

Part of his production can be attributed to his natural athletic ability. Phillip adds that in his 25 years of coaching Phillips he has never had a player who works as hard.

"Jake competes every single play, every single practice," Phillips said. "From the stretches to the runs to the warmups to the drills to team sessions, he goes hard."

A pattern has ceased emerging and just sits there, impressing you with various aspects of its personality.

Etc.: Notre Dame's offer came the day after he committed to Michigan. Oops. Has a bit of a rivalry with crosstown rival Taco Charlton, if twitter is any indicator:

They really hoed me on NCAA! They made @bigjakeyB_1 the same strength as me! Back to lifting tomorrow

I'm faster then @TheSupremeTaco and stronger on NCAA guess we know who really ran picktown

I feel for the guys who didn't make it in at all though.

Why Rudolph/Eifert? Thought about Funchess, but we don't really know how that's going to end up yet, and Butt does not quite match Funchess's outrageous length.

For a better picture of what a guy like Butt might end up like, the ND guys are good comparables. Both came out of high school at 6'6", 220-230. Rudolph was an all-world recruit, Eifert a generic three-star. Split the difference and you get Butt. Both added 30 pounds over the course of their high school careers and went in the first couple rounds of the NFL draft.

Guru Reliability: High. Save the 247 outlier, basic consensus. Healthy, productive high school career, some camps, Army game performance was limited.

Variance: Moderate. Whenever you're talking about putting a bunch of pounds on a tight end you threaten to take away the receiving ability that would make him excellent.

Ceiling: High. NFL frame and athleticism.

General Excitement Level:  High. Yup.

Projection: Is Al Borges tight-end mad enough to put Butt on the field this year? Survey says… maybe. If he wants a goal line blocker, a spare OL is going to be a better option; if he wants a Stanford-like package the problem with that is going to be similar to the problem Michigan had last year: dudes can't block well enough to put defenses in a bind. Meanwhile Borges has other options at that U spot and it would be nice to get another year of separation between Funchess and Funchess 2.0.

But the situation here is a bit like QB. With only two non-freshman TEs on the roster an injury would force a noob on the field, so you need to be prepared for that eventuality. I bet he plays.

Going forward he's always going to be battling with Funchess for the starting spot, but that's going to be a distinction without much of a difference as the two guys grow and become more complete players.



July 9th, 2013 at 12:45 PM ^

Does anyone have a good resource handy for explaining the different types of TEs?

I see mentions of things like "the U spot," but I'm not sure I understand what the different TE spots mean.


July 9th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

But the Y is pretty much your normal tight end. In line, blocks, catches, etc. More on the OL side of the spectrum. The U is more of a traditional H-Back - motion man, plays off the line, can split out wide, etc. more on the wide receiver end of the spectrum.    That's from smart football, but I can't open the page at work. Check there.



July 9th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Harbaugh uses the U-Back a lot. In the formation above, Walker is the U, and Vernon Davis is the typical TE. 

More often the U is set in motion, can pull to lead block on a Power run, and usually runs flat patterns and shorter routes under the other TE. It is a very versitale position, kind of like a TE and FB mix IMO. 

They can be really useful in the run game. When Gore killed the lions on the ground 2 years ago, it was basically behind the blocking of Walker. He pulled to the hole and opened it up for Gore. 

The 49ers used Walker so well that he left the team to get a fat contract. Wouldn't surprise me if he under performed this year if he isn't used in the same manner. 


July 9th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

Jake is 230 and can't block?  Who's measuring this?  A 6' 6ish 230lber (although light for the position) is still a big man compared to most linebackers. Depending upon angles he can also handle a DE.  Doesn't have to road-grade everyone and in fact because he can be moved around would not be uncommon to see him stalk-blocking various personnel.  Haven't seen any proof that he can't block yet - seems to be a pretty cliche' indictment. I still remember seeing a smallish Maurice Jones-Drew block a much bigger D-end by the name of Merriman pretty well..


July 9th, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

Blocking is more than a function of just size. The players that Butt would be blocking are going to be the same size (LB) or bigger (DE/DL) than him. It's a matter of technique, something the vast majority of young players struggle with. The quality of opponent, both in terms of size/strength and technique, just took a huge leap for him. It's going to take a while to adjust, as far as blocking technique is concerned.

Your assertion that you haven't seen any proof that he can't do it seems backwards. Wouldn't you want to see proof that he can?

The fact that MJD can block doesn't mean anything regarding Butt's ability. Just because one undersized professional RB can effectively block doesn't mean that this true freshman TE can do it.


July 9th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Is not determined by Brian either.  Neg away.  The theme here is that he can't do it.  His high school coach used him as an H-Back.  I'm sure Borges saw him block - so again the common throng here says he can't.  Depends upon the position he is in, the play, the type of block.  BTW haven't seen any 6' 6 LB's roaming around too much.  All types of blocks and you are saying "he can't".   My point about a smaller/lighter person clocking a bigger guy is lost it seems.  Funchess came from a program where he didn't have to block so it is understandable given his size that this will be an area where he may be behind the curve still.  Butt has film out where you can see his blocking and he did some fairly well in the spring game, but then again Brian said he isn't good here (or good enough yet to rely on) so that is reality.


July 9th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

EDIT: I realized that I was getting into a meta argument about the nature of blogs that had nothing to do with Butt or discussing football. In an effort to not get sucked into that kind of thing, I've replaced my original comment with this picture of a kitten playing football.

Space Coyote

July 9th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

I think he can make a pretty good field corner, his agility and leaping ability point in that direction. But I think he'll have trouble tackling outside of the typical "cheetah swipe from behind" technique. Don't think he has the power of a lion, tiger, or leapord to really drive a ball carrier into the ground though.

Also think he'd be a poor blocking TE. Could be because of technique, but I think size actually has a bit to do with it here as well.

Space Coyote

July 9th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

But it was more he could get away with things. He doesn't really have great technique and hasn't yet really displayed good leg drive. Against bigger guys, his hand placement and leverage aren't at the point yet where he looks like he can be an affective on-LOS TE this year. It's something he needs to work on. He needs to work on it because he doesn't have a lot of experience doing it, particularly as an EMOL. It does appear that he can be an H-back and maybe get across some defenders bodies, get to the next level, and seal a LB inside, but he doesn't look like at this point he will be doing a whole lot of reach blocks on DEs and he certainly doesn't appear to yet have the capability to stay in and pass pro, as he hasn't been taught that technique yet, whereas someone like Williams came in with some of that technique.

Butt still needs to get a stronger base and get coached up a bit to become an effective on-line TE. Right now, he looks a lot more like a U-back, which is what Brian and a lot of scouts are saying, and what I've seen of him too. It's not saying he can't (in fact, I think he has the body type to eventually split time between on-line and off-line TE position), but right now you won't see a ton of power formations out of Michigan with Funchess and Butt in at the same time.


July 9th, 2013 at 3:38 PM ^

Might be missing bad here on some egalitarian sarcasm but... if serious - you are recreating the same error. You are coming to a decision that he probably can't  - especially since he doesn't have good leg drive -

At what point do you allow for :

Lifting/eating/nutrition now since January = probably bigger, stronger, and better leg drive..

A whole gob of actual blocking practice during spring (remember you didn't see everything in the spring game...)

Untold hours of film/technique review with Ferrigno and Borges

All of the upcoming camp which will be more intense than above


but.... surely based on significant analysis of his hand-placement at some point he doesn't have the ability to do it this year.... 

Again - depends upon what blocks you need for the play/package he's in for.  Success is being able to execute the block he is asked to do - not just pass-pro on a DE, or drive a DT.


July 9th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

But by your logic (i.e., the "At what point do you allow for" argument), spending a few months in a college program would make anyone a good blocking TE. That's obviously not the case, because there are still players that struggle with blocking at the college level even though they're in supervised weight/nutrition programs and receive intensive coaching.

Personally, I'm going off the reports by scouts evaluating his strengths and weaknesses who concluded that his blocking needs work (as well as the general tendency for blocking technique to be something young players tend to need to work on when making the jump from HS). You're acting like people who say his blocking needs continued development are somehow making this up out of thin air and that the obvious conclusion is that of course he'll be a capable blocker.

Space Coyote

July 9th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

He's been there for 6-7 months. Yes, he probably is bigger and stronger now. He probably does have a better concept for technique now. But it's still a very limited amount. You can also look at some of his highlights and look at the way his body is made up to see he isn't a great in-line blocker at that point (and probably a ton hasn't changed in 6 months from when he was a quasi-WR/TE hybrid in HS).

Remember, Funchess also had a lot of time working on blocking and he was far from great last year. I'm sure both are improving, but 6 months at something doesn't make you great. 6 months isn't an adequate amount of time to completely reshape your body and add leg strength. It's not enough time to become a very good on-line blocking TE. No one is saying he won't be able to execute some blocks, but he likely will not be able to execute many of the blocks on-line TEs are asked to at this point because he doesn't have the experience or body make up to do so at this point. And you can see that from watching his film and what he has shown to date.

I doubt he'll ever drive block a DT (because that's not a thing TEs really do), so his ability to do that is relatively pointless. What I do know is that you don't just pick up pass pro in 6 months to become good enough at it to do many of the things Y-TEs are asked to do from a blocking stand point. You're being way to defensive about it and not actually taking the time to digest what is being said of him. You're making a huge leap, that based on the fact that he hasn't yet proven that he won't make a great blocking TE this year, that he some how will make a great blocking TE. Most likely, he won't. There is a possibility he made great progress in that regard. That possibility is small. Your leaning on a small possibility while other people that analyze it are leaning on what appears to be a larger possibility based on what they've seen from him and his to-date experience level.

But surely, by your accord Magnuson should be ready to be a LT right now. He's spent a whole year in the system, spent even more time in the film room, and spent even more time getting bigger. But the reality is that Magnuson probably hasn't perfected his technique, is probably still not up to where he should be from a strength stand point, and could probably spend more time learning the position before being considered at great blocker. It's no different for Butt.

Space Coyote

July 9th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Like, eerily similar. Except bunting is even taller. Yes, Michigan is going to have mismatches on offense, and that is when the "pro-style" because an extremely difficult offense to defend.


July 9th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

I'd be very surprised if Jake doesn't play this year.  Bunting will be the first to benefit from a real depth chart at TE and be able to redshirt.  Bunting is supposedly more raw, so this will help.

Ron Utah

July 9th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

I think Butt will play this year.  Even if everyone stays healthy, he's one of three scholarship TE's on the roster this year, and one of two with notable pass-catching ability.

Also, given Funchess's alarming inability to add weight, Butt may be the more accomplished blocker of the two from game one.

So, not only do I believe he'll play, I believe he'll play a fair amount, around 10-20 snaps per game on offense.

Ron Utah

July 9th, 2013 at 7:00 PM ^

The most recent roster update shows Funchess at 228 lbs.  That's no change from his fall weight.  Hopefully he can add some weight this summer, but a full off-season of strenght and conditioning doesn't appear to have added any.

Now, he may be much stronger, and a more able blocker, but, according the roster, he's not any bigger.


July 9th, 2013 at 7:54 PM ^

I don't think the weights on the MGoBlue.com roster have been updated, assuming THIS is the roster update you were referring to. I thought maybe there was explicit talk about Funchess not being able to add weight (which isn't that strange - happens every now and again with players).

Painter Smurf

July 9th, 2013 at 5:31 PM ^

It's pretty much a lock that Butt plays this year.  Borges can't survive with two TE's.  Butt is probably already a better blocker than Funchess.  And he may surpass Williams in that category sooner rather than later too.  Actually, I would not doubt that Khalid Hill plays as well.  Borges is apparently pretty excited about him.


July 9th, 2013 at 5:28 PM ^

he ran a route against desmond morgan and scored a touchdown. That move was pretty sick for a EE. After he puts on some weight he will be a beast! Why does ohio ranked are kids low,uh i no because he's going to Michigan.


July 9th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^

Two weeks ago, Jake weighed in at 238. He lost 6# of water in today's hurry-up offense drills and sprints. I would guess he'll be 240+ by the start of the season.