Name: Jake Butt
Weight: 250 lbs.
High school: Pickerington (OH) North
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: #88
Last year: I ranked Butt #2 and said he would be the starting tight end with 40 catches for 550 yards and 6 touchdowns (LINK). He caught 51 passes for 654 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Butt was a sure bet to have a very good year in 2015, not only because of his prodigious talent, but because of a coach that values tight ends. While the season started off with a disappointing loss to Utah, it also included a spectacular Butt touchdown catch where he outjumped three defenders. He finished with 8 catches for 93 yards and that 1 touchdown. He broke the 80-yard mark twice more, against Rutgers and Indiana, and had a career-long 56-yard touchdown catch against the Scarlet Knights. He won Big Ten Tight End of the Year after outpacing other tight ends by 16 receptions and 226 yards. And he was a First Team All-American, although he lost the John Mackey Award to Hunter Henry of Arkansas (51 catches, 739 yards, 3 touchdowns).
This year I expect more of the same from Butt. He will be helping to break in a new quarterback, but he went through that in 2015 with Jake Rudock. In this year’s case, the new quarterback will be a guy he’s been practicing with for at least a year. Butt is a pre-season All-American and a captain for Michigan’s offense. His value diminishes slightly because of the additional depth and talent at the position. Even though blocking tight end A.J. Williams graduated, up-and-comers like Tyrone Wheatley, Jr., Ian Bunting, Devin Asiasi, Zach Gentry, and others can play ball, too. It’s perhaps the deepest position group on the team, which is why one could perhaps make the argument that a captain and All-American should be rated even lower than the #6 most important player on the squad. All that aside, though, it should be fun to watch Butt’s continued maturation in a tight end-friendly offense.
Prediction: Starting tight end; 50 catches, 700 yards, 5 touchdowns