UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Butrym transitions from pupil to teacher

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As an impressionable redshirt freshman, UW defensive tackle Patrick Butrym came under the wing of an upperclassman, Jeff Stehle, who was more than willing to serve as a mentor.

That left a lasting impression on Butrym, who has been trying to serve as a mentor this season to some of the younger linemen, including freshman Beau Allen and redshirt freshman Ethan Hemer.

"Those guys have been great for me, too, they've helped me out a lot, it's just a great relationship," acknowledged Butrym, a junior from New Berlin (Waukesha Catholic).

Whereas Butrym is the most experienced defensive tackle on the UW roster with 11 career starts, Stehle didn't get a chance for regular playing time until last season, his senior year.

Nonetheless, he still had an impact on the development of Butrym, who had a career-high five tackles at Purdue and was named co-Defensive Player of the Week by the UW coaching staff, along with corner Antonio Fenelus.

"Jeff was always a good player fundamentally," Butrym said. "The more he started, the more he brought me along. It's a very similar situation to what's going on with me and the younger D-tackles."

So he enjoys the mentoring?

"No doubt about it," Butrym said. "These guys are definitely matriculating into their roles. They're maturing as players. You can see it each and every week. They're just good football players."

Why did it all come together for Butrym against the Boilermakers?

"Partially some of the schemes had something to do with it," he said. "I think I've played well the last couple of weeks - just by learning the intricacies of the defensive tackle position.

"I've been doing a good job by playing my gap and by playing sound. Sometimes more opportunities will come your way in some games, and that happened against Purdue."

UW coach Bret Bielema was particularly impressed with the way Butrym handled himself.  "He got on and off blocks - engaged and disengaged - as well as he has since he's been here," he said.

Bielema went on to add that Butrym's steady improvement can be traced to getting more snaps. Repetitions. "It's muscle memory," he said, "and the things Charlie (Partridge) engrained in him."

When did Butrym feel like he belonged or "arrived" as a defensive tackle?

"Last year, I thought I had finally come into my own at the position," he said. "Before that, I wasn't physically ready to play. I could handle it mentally. I knew what I was supposed to do out there.

"But I used to be playing at 260 to 265 on Saturdays when I was a freshman and that was tough. Last year I put on a lot of weight (he's up to 285) and I got stronger and that definitely helped."

Butrym has learned to be patient, too.

"You can't force anything because that's when they'll bust a play on you," he said, eyeing Saturday's challenge against Indiana's spread offense. "You have to maintain your pass rush lanes.

"Last Saturday, I let the game come to me, and I wasn't trying to force anything. I just took the plays that were there for me. You always want to play run first, then you transition to the pass rush."

Butrym got a "rush" last week when he was asked to perform his Jim Rome impersonation on camera for Rome's television show on ESPN. Bielema was acting as the on-campus correspondent. (Watch the Video)

Butrym has always been a big fan of Rome and his popular nationally-syndicated radio show (which airs locally between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on WTSO/Big1070 in Madison).

How did Butrym handle his 10-seconds of fame?

"Oh, man, I choked," he said with a sigh.

There were some mitigating circumstances.

"They threw me under the bus," Butrym contended. "I wasn't expecting it and they put me on the spot. I was in the middle of a drill and it's like, 'Hey, do you want to do your impression?'"

His reaction was, "No, not really."

But he was talked into it. How many times do you get to be on the Rome show? "Everyone was egging me on," Butrym said. "And I actually had some good clips but they didn't show them."

That's show biz. "A lot of my friends thought it was funny even though I wasn't very good," said Butrym. "I blew my big shot. But that's fine. I've got plenty of other impressions."

That would include Mel Kiper, Harry Caray and The Joker.

He just has to remember Rome wasn't built in a day.

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