December 10, 2013

Butcher's quest to improve rolls on full speed

When his 2013 season ended, Andrew Butcher never gave any thought to slowing down. In fact, he might have found an extra gear for his offseason workouts.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound weakside defensive end, a 2015 Tennessee commitment whose stock is soaring following a record-setting junior campaign, fills his weeks with roughly eight training sessions --- including work with former Vols defensive end Constantin Ritzmann.

"I train four times a week in the morning at my high school and three times a week after school at Competitive Edge Sports, and once a week I'm doing yoga," said the Alpharetta, Ga., standout who committed to the Vols in early June. "My first get-off step, I'm training with former Tennessee Vol Constantin Ritzmann on that. He's taught me to pass rush a lot better. And I'm going to try to improve my weight and speed; I'm 240 now and I'd like to get to 255 or 260 by next season and get my 40 below 4.75."

Butcher said he added 20 pounds, mostly muscle, from his sophomore to junior seasons and expected to be able to do the same again during this offseason. That's a scary proposition for Butcher's future foes after he amassed gaudy statistics, not to mention two school records, as he terrified the opposition in 2013.

Butcher closed the year with 79 tackles, 25 of them behind foes' lines of scrimmage, and 13 sacks as well as eight forced fumbles and a blocked kick. His five-sack single-game outburst was the best individual performance in Alpharetta High School history and he's now the career sack leader with 20 notched and still a season to play.

"I feel like I improved as a player because I was getting double- and triple-teamed at times," said Butcher, whose father Jake won a national championship at Clemson. "My quickness is a lot better; I've really worked on that."

Butcher said Ritzmann has proved to be an extremely valuable resource as he's worked to hone his craft.

"It helps a lot because he's told us what he's been through and teaches techniques," Butcher explained. "He trained Carl Lawson last year and now he's in the rotation for Auburn."

As Butcher grinds his way through the offseason, he's found motivation both in Tennessee's ongoing recruiting excellence and in the Vols' commitments' drive to help restore the UT program. He took immediate notice last week when Butch Jones & Co. landed five-star wideout Josh Malone.

"It's very motivating. Because we want to be the best," Butcher said. "We want to be the teams that are playing in SEC Championships in a couple years. The only way to do that is with the best talent and hard work."

Much like the Vols' 2014 class has developed a strong core bond and actively recruited their peers, Butcher, Jack Jones, Zach Stewart and Cecil Cherry all have been doing the same thing for '15 and beyond.

"Just from visits, we've all got close and hang out when we're up there," Butcher said. "Me and Jack hung out and went to the lake together for a weekend in the summer. All the other people get to know each other and their families.

"[Continuing recruiting momentum is] very motivating because it shows how close we are to being back to what we used to be and competing for a national championship every year."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!