Jake Butt, listed as 6'6", 235ish, announced his commitment to Michigan Sunday night, via twitter. He was part of the huge visiting party over the weekend, witnessing the commitments of several other prospects, and finally dropping for the Maize and Blue after talking it over with his parents on Sunday. He would have stayed for the basketball game, but would have had to drive all the way home afterwards, going well into the morning. His hatred for the Buckeyes, though, should not be put into question.
Although Butt lacked some of the top-end, elite offers that several of the committed linemen would enjoy, his offer list is nothing, if not solid. Offers from Michigan, Notre Dame (a day too late), Boston College, Wisconsin, and Iowa would headline over 20 offers from many good, if not great, programs across the country. His recruitment began to blow up over the summer, and he received his Michigan offer in late November, shortly after witnessing the Wolverines beat OSU in the Big House. Shortly after, it became evident that Michigan held a very strong position for Butt, recently naming them to his top five, following that up by naming them his outright leader. A commitment came shortly after.
While the roster was certainly left in better shape for Hoke than it was for Rich Rod, tight end was still a position of sore need, especially for the pro style attack that Borges plans to implement. In the 2012 class, the Wolverines were able to grab two TEs in AJ Williams and Devin Funchess, but missed out on OH TE Sam Grant towards the end of the cycle, a teammate of Kyle Kalis, when he signed with Oklahoma. This move made the position a top priority in the 2013 cycle. Landing 4 in two years should be a sufficient enough number, especially with only 2 leaving in those same 2 years, to provide quality depth at the position. While originally told he'd be playing Funchess' hybrid U-Back position, Khalid Hill committed to play that position shortly before Butt dropped for the Wolverines. Without knowing the layout of the offense, it's difficult to know if one will be utilized more than the other, but I would imagine that the coaches then shifted Butt over to a more traditional TE role, in their minds, like AJ Williams. With his size, and it looks like he could add another good 20-30 pounds, it seems as though Butt could easily manage the grind. Butt will likely be the last TE in the class, unless someone like Adam Breneman chooses to join the fold (although I'm willing to bet he'll be a Nittany Lion within a month).
After Brandon Moore leaves, this next offseason, the path to playing time may be quite easy. Some are assuming that AJ Williams will shift to OT (which I disagree with), which would leave Butt as the only blocking TE on the roster, while having 3 (Ricardo Miller, Hill, Funchess, maybe even Shallman) H/U-Back type players. Butt, if he can add some good weight over the next two years, may be able to see significant playing time in 2-tight end sets, heavier sets, or in a rotation with the aforementioned Williams. He may eventually pass Williams on the depth chart, due to his combination of athleticism and pass catching ability, on top of his blocking prowess/size.
As I said before, when breaking down Butt's film, he looks like the most complete TE that Michigan has landed in years, perhaps since Moore or Koger. He offers a huge redzone target and a wide window around his body, wherein he can track down and catch anything. Naturally, with his size, he's not afraid to go over the middle, and he doesn't seem to lose focus when he's about to take a hit. He has an excellent vertical leap, almost looking like a WR, at times. We've got more athletic options (Funchess) and better blockers (Williams), but Butt is certainly the most complete of them all.
So there you have it, folks. Butt is the type of player that could heavily contribute for a number of years. In some ways, he's preferable to the top rated TEs in the country over the past few years, such as Adam Breneman (220 lbs), Kent Taylor (220), and Ben Koyack (225), in that he already has the frame and size to make an impact in the running game, but balances it with a strong understanding and ability to make plays in the passing game. He's just the type of player Michigan needed to grab in this cycle, and it's an acquisition that will be paying off for years to come.