The Wolverine

December 2021*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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60 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2021 BY ANTHONY BROOME T ight end Jake Butt (2013-16) is a fan- favorite in Ann Arbor after a produc- tive career during the Brady Hoke and Jim Harbaugh eras. He moved on, as many of the names and faces do when their foot- ball careers end. However, fans are seeing more of the former star in and around Ann Arbor. Butt, who retired from the NFL after a brief stint with the Chicago Bears in the 2021 offseason, is now active on social media during Michigan games. He is back living in Ann Arbor and is diving head- first into the podcasting and media game, where he works with Isaiah Hole of USA Today's WolverinesWire. He discusses the games with friend and former team- mate Henry Poggi but is looking to take his analysis public. "During my time at Michigan, I would always try to represent myself and the football team really well when I was up there speaking in front of the media," he said. "Through that, people knew this might be an interest of mine. I figured it would be a great way to dip my toe in the water to potentially get into broadcasting someday and do something I already do anyway, which is watching the Michigan football team with a critical eye. This gave me a bigger platform to do that. "This is something I've been inter- ested in for a very long time. I have tried to hone in on my skills by taking different public speaking classes and trying to get comfortable in front of the camera and the mic. It's something I've known I've wanted to do for a while. I'm not doing anything with it right now, but I've got my eyes open if something like that presents itself." The Michigan degree is one that sets its alumni up to do many different things. Aside from all of the "oohs" and "ahhs" of the recruiting process, that network ulti- mately led to his commitment in February 2012 during a big visit weekend. "The big recruiting pitches are they come in, show you the facilities and look at these gadgets. 'Look, we have a 100- foot plasma TV for you to watch games!' It's all the bells and whistles," he recalled. "Nowadays, every school has that, so it's not like that really moves the needle. I was looking at a lot of other big schools [Northwestern, Wisconsin, Stanford] and other schools in the Big Ten. I knew I wanted to play on the big stage. What you have at Michigan is the education, but even more so than that is the network. "I don't think there's anywhere that comes close when it comes to top-level football where you'll be on the national stage, as well as getting a world-class ed- ucation. Then, you're joining the largest alumni base in the entire world. That's a three-headed monster no school can compete with. Being a kid, you don't re- ally know what your next five to 10 years will look like. Michigan is a safe bet in that if you go here, opportunities are going to find you." Butt spent the first two seasons of his career playing under head coach Brady Hoke before the Wolverines made the switch to Jim Harbaugh in December 2014. Harbaugh brought the reputation of expanding the use of tight ends, so Butt knew he would have the chance to shine. "I knew right away that there was going to be an opportunity," Butt said. "When you understand you have the opportu- nity, you raise your level of preparation knowing you'll be asked to do a number of things. You have to take your game to the next level and try to become a complete package. "Combine that with the fact that I was going into my junior year, going into my third year of college-level strength and conditioning and nutrition, it was really the perfect storm of everything aligning. The first spring camp, I really gained Har- baugh and [quarterback] Jake Rudock and our quarterbacks' trust that I could be a weapon on the team." Butt won the John Mackey Award for being college football's best tight end and received All-America honors from across college football in 2016. Michigan was un- able to make it to the Big Ten title game that season, but Butt never had designs to sit out the Orange Bowl versus Florida State. He never once considered sitting out the bowl game — but he almost did not have a choice. "You have guys start sitting out like [star running backs] Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery," he remem- bered. "They were trying to protect their draft status and looking at themselves as an investment. I don't fault them at all or anyone who does that. "For me, it started about four days be- fore the game. I got really sick. I missed two of the three practices leading up to the Butt was on back-to-back 10-win teams in 2015-16, and holds program records for career catches (138) and yards (1,646) by a tight end. He was a two-time All-American and the winner of the John Mackey Award in 2016. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Jake Butt Is Using His Experiences To Give Back  Butt on tearing his ACL in the Orange Bowl versus Florida State "I have no regrets. People might think I'm blowing smoke here, but it was one of the best things to ever to happen to me. It opened my eyes to a new perspective of looking at life and hardships and trials. It solidified my love for the University of Michigan."

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