ATHENS, Ga. -- Drew Butler is not afraid to say what he wants.
The former Georgia punter knows history dictates that few players at his position are selected in the NFL draft, but it is important to Butler that he become a drafted player.
“I think I’ve worked extremely hard throughout the past four years to become a draft-able choice,” Butler said, “and I think I’ve worked extremely hard throughout this entire evaluation process to be considered the top punter in the draft and to be that first punter taken off the board.”
At least one punter has been drafted each year since 1999 -- Ohio State’s B.J. Sander went highest among punters selected in that 13-year period, going in the third round as the 87th overall pick of the 2004 draft -- but the average number of punters picked each year in that time span is just 2.1.
That leaves Butler with little wiggle room. But he might have the strongest resume of the punters available in the 2012 draft. He won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter in 2009, was a finalist the following year, and ranks second in SEC history in both single-season punting average (48.1 yards in 2009) and career punting average (45.2).
He hopes those accomplishments combined with strong performances in the Senior Bowl, NFL scouting combine and Monday’s UGA pro day workouts will help him achieve the lofty draft position rarely seen by a punter.
“Somebody asked me, ‘Do you want to be picked in the fourth, fifth, sixth round?’ and I said, ‘No, I want to be picked in the second round.’ I want to be picked as high as I could,” said Butler, whom ESPN ranks as the top punting prospect in the draft. “Being able to have that kind of opportunity is going to be a big honor.”
Home-field advantage br>
Georgia’s three former offensive linemen -- Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson -- fared well enough in workouts at the NFL scouting combine that they opted to participate only in position drills at Monday’s pro day.
“I was a little nervous at first, but once I got warmed up and got in a groove, it was OK. It was better than OK,” Anderson said after completing pro day workouts at Georgia’s Woodruff Practice Fields. “The difference between that and the combine is at the combine you’ve got cameras everywhere and it’s kind of an environment you’re not used to. Here I’m back at home. It was all good.”
Besides, Jones said, a 300-pound lineman’s time in the 40-yard dash or another speed event is only so important. He was happy his times from the combine were good enough that he could focus solely on impressing scouts in lineman-specific drills.
“If I had ran a bad time or something like that, I’d have redone it,” Jones said. “But we all had a pretty good combine, we did what we wanted to and that’s why a lot of teams, they don’t really care how fast you run a 40 in, they want your own field and want to see the drills -- how you react to coaching and cooperate out there. I think it all went well.”
Into the wind br>
Former Georgia kicker Blair Walsh had never performed under conditions as windy as those at Monday’s workout, but he still delivered a strong performance.
The SEC’s all-time leading scorer said he went 16-for-17 on field goal tries with a long of 60 yards at pro day, following up on an equally strong performance at the combine.
“I’m sure they came out here today and they saw it was windy and wanted to see how we did in it because the last time they saw me kick was in a dome in Indianapolis in a controlled environment,” Walsh said. “So I think this definitely helped show you can kick in windy conditions.”
Walsh struggled as a senior, going 21-for-35 on field goals after ranking among Georgia’s all-time leaders in accuracy through his first three seasons.
He said Monday that he’s proud of the way he persevered through those struggles and still believes he has the makings of an NFL kicker -- even if that might lead to a nomadic lifestyle in the short term.
“It’s part of the game,” Walsh said. “If you’re not willing to commit a couple years to it, then you’re just a one-and-done type of deal. But I’m willing to commit years to it and I’m confident I think I’ll crack into it. But it’s a tough business. I think I picked a job where there’s 32 jobs, so hopefully I’m one of them.”
White’s plight br>
Georgia tight end Aron White didn’t play in a postseason all-star game or participate in the combine, so he didn’t have an opportunity to impress scouts away from Athens.
But at pro day, he had the chance to use to his advantage all the eyeballs that were on fellow tight end Orson Charles.
White was pleased with his performance in position drills alongside Charles, after completing 22 reps on bench press and running a 4.73-second time in the 40.
“I feel like it went really well. I couldn’t ask for a better day out there,” said White, whose 10 career touchdown catches tie Charles for the most in UGA history by a tight end. “Of course you want to go out there and run the world’s fastest 40 time, but realistically you’ve got to know your role and know what your numbers are going to look like and I feel like I came out here and my numbers were pretty good.
“I felt like I beat expectations and exceeded what people thought I was going to do and turned some heads. All I got was positive feedback from guys.”