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Award-winning kicker teaches area youth

NORTH AUGUSTA --- As he boomed footballs skyward on a recent Thursday afternoon, Drew Butler appreciated the moment.

The Georgia sophomore punter shared tips with about 15 youngsters at a clinic at Lions Memorial Field. The reigning Ray Guy Award winner didn't mind sharing his knowledge.

"I've been to plenty of these camps in my day," he said. "Just to be here is pretty surreal. It's a real cool experience."

Butler was honored later in the evening by the Augusta Sports Council for winning the Ray Guy Award in December. His record-setting season led to him winning the honor as best collegiate punter.

"Hopefully, I can do everything to keep my name associated with his," Butler said. "It's a huge honor, and he's the greatest."

"It's very hard to put into words how proud we are of him," said Kevin Butler, Drew's famous father who is the lone place-kicker in the College Football Hall of Fame. "He's taking advantage of the opportunity he was given by (Georgia coach) Mark Richt and his staff. And he's worked hard at it."

Drew Butler is relatively new to football. He played golf and soccer as a youth, but soccer became more of a problem as he got older, his father said.

"As the Butlers go, we're deceptively slow," Kevin Butler said. "Soccer was kind of passing him by. And he wanted to challenge himself some other ways."

Drew Butler went out for football for the first time his sophomore season at Peachtree Ridge High School, kicking and punting for his team. When Georgia signed him, Butler entered college as a punter only.

"Punting just seemed a little more natural for me," he said. "I had more passion for it. I realized that was going to be my ticket."

Butler kicked three times his freshman year, but he took over the full-time duties this past season. He served notice in Week 1 at Oklahoma State with his first punt of the season, a 68-yard boot. He finished that game with six punts for a 57-yard average. Butler led the nation all season in punting average, finishing with a school record 48.1-yard average. He punted 56 times, with 19 of those kicks inside the 20. Butler's longest punt was 75 yards, with no blocks.

"The thing that surprised me this year wasn't his averages, but his consistency," Kevin Butler said. "That just comes from hard work."

The Butler family will continue their celebration when they leave for Connecticut in advance of Walter Camp Weekend. Drew Butler will be recognized for being the 2009 Walter Camp All-American punter, while Kevin Butler will be honored as being part of the 25th anniversary team - he was an All-American kicker in 1984.

"It's very coincidental that 25 years ago I made the team," the elder Butler said. "I'm absolutely thrilled. We'll have that very special moment to share together."

Web posted on Thursday, January 21, 2010

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