Georgia Bulldogs: Drew Butler



ATHENS, Ga. – If Georgia's situation doesn't seem familiar, it certainly should. After losing its first SEC game of the season on Saturday, Georgia no longer controls its fate in its pursuit of a league title.

No Bulldogs team has gone unbeaten in SEC play – or even in divisional play – since the conference split into divisions in 1992, and yet Georgia has claimed five SEC East titles in Mark Richt's 12-plus seasons as coach, including each of the last two years.

As they prepare for their often-treacherous visit to Nashville to face Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3 SEC), the injury-riddled Bulldogs understand that their BCS championship hopes are all but dead, but they remain among the top contenders in the East -- particularly since they've beaten South Carolina and both Florida and Missouri have injury concerns of their own.

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Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsAaron Murray and the Bulldogs had a rough outing against Missouri and now will need help in the SEC East.
“The past two seasons, we've dug ourselves out of a hole and hopefully we'll try to do it again,” senior tight end Arthur Lynch said. “It's not ideal or what you hope for, but I think for us as a team, we know we can control what's in front of us in terms of the games we play. We have Vanderbilt next week in Nashville. That's going to be a tough game.”

Georgia was in an extremely similar position two years ago when it visited Vanderbilt.

The Bulldogs suffered a pair of early losses and arrived in Nashville needing a win that would make the ensuing open date tolerable with a huge game against Florida on the horizon. Georgia's 33-28 win is best remembered for the postgame shouting match between Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Commodores head coach James Franklin, but it was Georgia punter Drew Butler who made the play of the game when he tackled Kenny Ladler deep in Georgia territory in the game's closing seconds after Udom Umoh blocked a Butler punt.

Georgia claimed a 24-20 win over Florida after the open date and rolled through the rest of the conference schedule, earning the first of two consecutive berths in the SEC championship game and setting up the blueprint for what the Bulldogs now must accomplish in order to return to Atlanta.

“The best thing we can do right now obviously is to get ready to play Vanderbilt and try to get a victory there,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It's been tough to be able to do that, especially last time we were there. It was quite a game if you remember, and we were very fortunate to get out of there with a win.

“So we've got to just try to take care of that business and then the open date we can probably see how the dust is settling then prior to the Florida game. But the biggest thing we can do to help ourselves is to get ready this week.”

No. 14 Missouri (6-0, 2-0) is in the driver's seat in the East after handing No. 15 Georgia (4-2, 3-1) a 41-26 loss on Saturday, but the win was costly for the Tigers. Quarterback James Franklin took a hard hit from Bulldogs outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and suffered a separated shoulder that could force him to miss the rest of the season.

Freshman quarterback Maty Mauk performed well after replacing Franklin against Georgia, but he now must face No. 22 Florida (4-2, 3-1) and No. 11 South Carolina (5-1, 3-1) over the next two weeks. Florida dropped its first league game on Saturday at LSU, meaning the Gators' next two games -- at Mizzou and against Georgia in Jacksonville -- will have a major say in their fate. And South Carolina still must beat Mizzou and Florida and hope Georgia loses again somewhere along the line.

“It's the SEC. You never know. Missouri could lose, too,” Georgia running back Brendan Douglas said. “You never know what could happen. But Missouri's a great team. I'm not going to say anything about them, but you never know what could happen.”

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Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesJordan Matthews and Vanderbilt enter Saturday's game against Georgia also off a loss to Missouri after a bye.
Richt agreed with that sentiment, noting on his Sunday teleconference that, “It might be who can handle the adversity the best – who can find a way to win, who can fight and scratch and figure out a way. That's probably what it's going to come down to.”

Georgia learned that much over the last few weeks when injuries to tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, receivers Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Jonathon Rumph and Michael Bennett and safety Tray Matthews caused the Bulldogs to play most of the last two games without some of their top playmakers.

Although Mitchell, Marshall and Scott-Wesley are out for the year and Bennett is out until at least the Florida game, Richt said Rumph should return to practice on Monday. Gurley and Matthews, he said, also might return for the Vandy game.

Regardless of whether they play, the main goal for Georgia this week is to get out of Nashville with a win that lets the Bulldogs reach their off week, heal from some of the injuries that have been so costly lately, and prepare for the showdown in Jacksonville. The back end of the Bulldogs' conference schedule -- after facing four top-15 teams in the first six games -- is more manageable, but they have to get past Vanderbilt for those games to matter the way they have in the last two seasons.

“We really need to just focus on the task at hand, which right now is Vanderbilt, and take it one game at a time,” Lynch said. “To be 4-2 after the kind of gauntlet we've been through, with four or five ranked teams in six games, is not easy.

“I think that even if from a national standpoint, people have kind of lost hope for us, which is fine in my eyes, no team will have a better resume in terms of strength of schedule than we have through this season, so I think there's some merit in that.”

By the numbers: UGA classes since 2006 

January, 18, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Here’s a breakdown of Georgia’s last seven recruiting classes and what they managed to accomplish in college and beyond:

2006
ESPN top five classes: Florida, USC, Texas, Georgia, Notre Dame
Georgia’s ranking: 4

Morgan's roller-coaster ride continues 

October, 2, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Marshall Morgan experienced another couple of hilly points on his rollercoaster ride as Georgia’s place-kicker last Saturday.

In the Bulldogs’ 51-44 win against Tennessee, the freshman’s problems with extra points continued -- he failed on one attempt after banking it off the left upright, having already chipped three successful PATs off the left upright in previous games, plus Tennessee’s Daniel McCullers blocked another PAT try -- and yet he also contributed one of the biggest momentum-shifting plays of the game.

Morgan’s 50-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer helped Georgia tie the score at 30-30, helping the Bulldogs right the ship after a dismal second quarter eliminated a big early advantage.

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Game Breakdown: Vanderbilt at Georgia 

September, 21, 2012
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VANDERBILT AT NO. 5 GEORGIA
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET
Sanford Stadium/Athens, Ga.
ESPN2
Records: Georgia 3-0 (1-0 SEC), Vanderbilt 1-2 (0-1)

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Preseason previews: Special teams 

August, 1, 2012
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Editor’s note: With Georgia set to open preseason camp on Thursday, DawgNation will break down each position group and the storylines to watch in August. After examining Georgia’s offensive and defensive position groups, we complete the series today with the Bulldogs’ special teams units.


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Seventy-seven days remain until Georgia kicks off its season opener against Buffalo on Sept. 1. In the days counting down to the opener, DawgNation will profile, with our “Around the Hedges in 80 Days” series, a Bulldogs player we expect to make an impact. We will review each player’s career thus far and project his long-term potential as we progress through our alphabetical list, from center David Andrews to receiver Rantavious Wooten.

77. Collin Barber

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Watch Saturday's Rounds 4-7 live on WatchESPN.com.

Day 2 of the NFL draft has come and gone with only one Georgia player -- offensive lineman Cordy Glenn -- being picked.

Projected by many draft experts as a first-round pick, Glenn slipped to the second round, where the Buffalo Bills grabbed him with the 41st pick. Former Bulldogs Brandon Boykin and Orson Charles both had hopes of landing in the second or third rounds, but neither player made it off the board by the end of the night.

Rounds 4-7 will begin Saturday at noon ET on ESPN, with Boykin, Charles and several other ex-Bulldogs hoping to hear their names called on the draft’s final day.

Center Ben Jones, punter Drew Butler, defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson and kicker Blair Walsh are also among the potential ex-Bulldog draft picks. Several more should have the opportunity to sign deals with NFL clubs as undrafted free agents.

UGA NFL draft primer

April, 26, 2012
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With an hour to go until the NFL draft begins, Georgia figures to have only one player hear his name called tonight during the first round.

Almost every top draft analyst has former Bulldogs offensive lineman Cordy Glenn going in the first round, typically somewhere in the mid to late first round.

However, Georgia figures to have several more players drafted between the second and seventh rounds on Friday and Saturday -- with cornerback Brandon Boykin, tight end Orson Charles and center Ben Jones figuring to be the next Bulldogs off the board.

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Scouts Inc.'s NFL draft cheat sheets

April, 25, 2012
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Scouts Inc. breaks down the 2012 class in each position group, including the top prospects in each of the position-specific categories Scouts uses in evaluations, along with a listing of all draft-ready prospects, four-year combine averages, picks in Rounds 1-2, and three-year market trends for each position.

Offense
Quarterback
Running back
Wide receiver
Tight end
Offensive lineman

Defense
Defensive lineman
Linebacker
Defensive back

Butler to walk-ons: Consistency is king 

March, 20, 2012
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To get ready for the start of Georgia’s spring football practice today, DawgNation will do a position breakdown each day and feature a player to watch in that personnel group. Today we look at special teams and walk-on kickers Jamie Lindley, Scott Eichler and Adam Erickson.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia signed punter Collin Barber and kicker Marshall Morgan to immediately step in and replace departed seniors Drew Butler and Blair Walsh -- two of the best ever to play the kicking positions at Georgia.

That hardly means that plan is set in stone, however. Just ask Butler.

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Spring look: Special teams

March, 20, 2012
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To get ready for the start of Georgia’s spring football practice today, DawgNation has provided a position breakdown for each of the last nine days. In today’s final installment, we analyze the special teams.

2011 starters: P Drew Butler, 2011 senior (58 punts, 2,566 yards, 44.2 yards per punt); PK: Blair Walsh, 2011 senior (21-35 field goals, 46-46 PAT, 109 points); PR: Brandon Boykin, 2011 senior (14 returns, 180 yards, 1 TD, 12.9 yards per return); KOR: Boykin (38-850, 22.4 yards per return); SN: Ty Frix, Sr.

Key losses: Butler, Walsh, Boykin, PK Brandon Bogotay (1-2 FG, 6-6 PAT, 9 points)

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Pro day notes: Butler has high hopes 

March, 7, 2012
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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.”

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Senior Bowl, NFL draft links

January, 26, 2012
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Mel Kiper Jr. lists Georgia's Drew Butler to go first among punters in the NFL draft, citing Butler's ability as "a guy who can get off big punts, but not so long that they limit coverage." Kiper lists Georgia TE Orson Charles second to only Clemson's Dwayne Allen among tight ends, and Cordy Glenn, whom he calls "a massive guy," second among offensive guards in the piece "Top 5 players at every position."

In his piece "Senior Bowl Stock," Todd McShay says that Georgia CB Brandon Boykin's stock is up. The special teams star has been impressive at the event, quickly recognizing routes and showing "excellent flashes" of recovery speed, among other things.

And ... Todd McShay explains the latest technology being used to scout the Senior Bowl.

[Check out the Senior Bowl home page here.]

Based on Glenn's ability to play all over the line, Kiper's Mock Draft 1.0 projects the OG to be selected No. 18 by the San Diego Chargers. However, Kiper considers Glenn's value to be higher still, placing him at No. 17 on the lastest Big Board.

Eight Bulldogs named All-SEC 

December, 5, 2011
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Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 847 yards despite missing time with injuries and disciplinary issues, was named the SEC Freshman of the Year on Monday by the Associated Press -- making him one of eight Bulldogs to receive an All-SEC designation.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who leads the conference with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss, was a unanimous selection, while offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, tight end Orson Charles and safety Bacarri Rambo also made the first team.

Center Ben Jones and quarterback Aaron Murray were second-team selections and punter Drew Butler earned an honorable mention.

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Butler family's ties to Munson run deep 

November, 21, 2011
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Punter Drew Butler’s ties to Larry Munson run deeper than those of most Georgia players.

Not only was Butler’s father Kevin a participant in one of the beloved Munson’s most famous calls as Georgia’s radio play-by-play announcer, Drew is one of the second-generation Bulldogs to have been a member of the team during Munson’s 42 years behind the mike.

Munson died Sunday night at age 89 of complications from pneumonia.

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