ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tight end Jake Butt (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North) had been in Michigan Stadium twice before, for the Notre Dame and Ohio State games in 2011. But his hopes on Saturday for the performance and hype in the Big House were no different for the Air Force game.
No, it wasn't a marquee opponent. But the 2013 commit expected the ambiance and fans to be just as intense. And he wasn't disappointed.
"It's always good to be in the Big House, because it's such a great environment," Butt said. "It was a little bit different but it was still so loud in there. The fans are always getting hyped."
And while the drama and performance of the Wolverines resulted in a home-opening win it was the achievement of freshman tight end Devin Funchess that seemed to steal the show for Butt.
Butt was impressed with Funchess' performance. The first-year player had the first 100-yard game for a Michigan tight end since 1997. But he wasn't too surprised to see Funchess break onto the scene because he knew the true freshman had the abilities and he knew Michigan tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno was working to get his position group more catches.
"I knew that they would be doing that, with Ferrigno being such a great tight ends coach," Butt said. "Funchess is such a great athlete. He was going up and making great plays. So it was definitely good to watch and definitely good for me to see."
Butt said he has been working to get his technique and hitting abilities up to the point where Funchess' are. However, Butt has already passed Funchess in size at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds (Funchess is 6-foot-5, 229 pounds).
With how liberal Michigan coach Brady Hoke has been about playing true freshmen this year, Butt knows he needs to be ready if his number is called next fall. And if it happens, he believes he can make the same kind of impact Funchess has.
"I've invested a lot of hard work," Butt said. "And with more work and practice, I think I can do that."
He's hoping to see the Wolverines play again this season, though the Ohio native who resides just a few miles from Columbus is unsure of whether he'll attend the Michigan-Ohio State game in Columbus in November. If he can find tickets, he'll be there in maize and blue, though.
"A lot of the Ohio State fans are already talking stuff," Butt said. "They're saying, 'Oh, Michigan, you struggled.' That's going to come, but I think Michigan is fine. All that matters it they got the win."
But he does plan on making the trip in two years. At that point, he'll be a sophomore and he's hoping to catch a few passes and hit a few Buckeyes as early as he can in The Horseshoe.