The next time Harrison Butker kicks a ball through the uprights, he will become Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer.
When Butker kicked the game-winning extra point to beat Georgia last month, he moved into a tie for first place on the program’s all-time points list. He’s all-square with Luke Manget, who scored 322 points during his career from 1999-2002.
Barring some unforeseen event, it appears nothing can really stop Butker from breaking the record against Kentucky at the TaxSlayer Bowl. Unless, of course, ...
“I was joking with him,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “He’s tied right now, and I told him we were going for two every time we score.”
Butker said, “Yeah, he said that at the banquet, and I think he’s joking … hopefully.”
During the past 10 years Butker has gone from a soccer player who didn’t play football to an all-time scoring leader at one of the nation’s oldest and storied football programs.
“I didn’t come to Tech thinking about breaking records,” Butker said. “It was sort of a surprise to me. I like to think that I’ve kept my head down and kicked the ball, and then (the media) will tell me about the record.”
Butker grew up in Atlanta and attended the Westminster School. Most of his friends were Georgia fans, so his streak of individuality caused him to drift to the Georgia Tech side. It also helped that he was interested in the school’s basketball team and its run to the 2004 NCAA championship game.
But he didn’t play football until his sophomore year in high school and didn’t recognize his opportunities as a place-kicker until he attended a kicking camp that summer. He decided to kick again as a junior “just to be on the team and because it was fun,” he said. “I had a good year and realized I was pretty decent.”
He was good enough to twice be named to the high school all-state team and was considered a strong addition to the Georgia Tech’s recruiting class of 2013.
During his four-year career with the Yellow Jackets, Butker is 39-for-56 on field goals with a long of 53 yards against Georgia in 2014 to send the game into overtime. He’s 205-for-207 on extra-point tries, including the kick that beat the Bulldogs last month.
Butker can remember the flood of thoughts going through his head at Sanford Stadium when he helped the Yellow Jackets score their second straight win there.
“When I was going for the extra point, I was pretty calm, and then the fans started screaming, and I was kind of thinking back to the 53-yard field goal,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, this is an extra point.’ Then, ‘Oh, wait, it got blocked two years ago.’ But I wasn’t worried, and our O-line has done a great job all year. I knew that if I got the kick up, I was going to make it.”
He did. Now he stands one point shy of being the most prolific of all Yellow Jackets place-kickers.
“He hasn’t surprised me,” Johnson said. “He’s done about what I expected him to do. Now, if you’d asked me, ‘Will he be the all-time leading scorer?’ I wouldn’t have known. But historically through the years, it’s been pretty regular with our offense for those guys to score a lot of points.”
Butker plans to give the NFL a shot. In addition to having good range, he’s a major weapon on kickoffs. This season, he has put 47 of his 66 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. The kicks that were returned only went for an average of 21.4 yards.
He worked during the offseason with Will Lutz, a former Georgia State player who now kicks for the New Orleans Saints. Butker speaks with Lutz on a regular basis and last week exchanged text messages about the NFL draft.
“I’ll definitely try for the NFL,” Butker said. “Everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to be the best at. In college, I’m trying to be the best, and the next step would be the NFL. I’m going to try and give it my all. I’m looking forward to it.”