SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – New England Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is widely considered the best at his position in the NFL.
And he so happens to be the one player that Michigan freshman Jake Butt aspires to play like. And while Butt is the first to admit he far from being on Gronkowski’s playing level, he still strives everyday to play like the four-year NFL veteran.
“I’m always catching balls before and after practice,” Butt said. “He doesn’t have very many drops. Of course, I got to get a lot bigger to get on his level. But I have really taken pride in my blocking, footwork and fundamentals as well.”
Butt is right, they don’t compare physically quite yet. While both Gronkowski and Butt stand at 6-foot-6, Gronkowski has Butt beat by 21-pounds (258 to 237) and 42 career NFL touchdowns receptions. And a big reason for Gronkowski’s success, has been his ability to catch the ball in traffic due to his size, something Butt says he will be working on this off-season.
“I think that is definitely the goal I am going to be working towards (adding weight),” Butt said. “I think I got plenty of time ahead of me to work towards that goal and achieve it. We got this whole off-season and everything to work on it.”
Appearing in 12 games as freshman, Butt finished the regular season with 17 catches for 202 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“I set myself to a high standard,” Butt said on his freshman campaign. “I think that is part of the reason I graduated early so I can get some playing time. I know we were thin at the tight end position. Coming in and taking the reps that I did, that’s going to mean a lot going forward. That experience, the game has slowed down so much. Going forward it means a lot.”
And maybe, just maybe, he’ll be as good as Gronkowski or even better. But for right now, Butt is on the right track.