Jake Butt '50-50' on returning to Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jake Butt

Ann Arbor – Michigan tight end Jake Butt is on the fence about his future, and he'd like to have a decision in the next week or so whether he will stay or go.

Butt, the Big Ten's Tight End of the Year, said he is "50-50" regarding whether he returns to Michigan for his final year of eligibility or forgoes that season and moves to the NFL. He has made a pros-and-cons list and plans to meet this week with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, a longtime NFL veteran as a player who spent the previous four years coaching the San Francisco 49ers, before coming to Ann Arbor.

"I'd say it's 50-50 right now," Butt said Monday during a news conference. "Can't say I'm leaning one way or the other especially without talking to Coach Harbaugh. I really want to hear his input."

Butt has been hearing he could be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.

"If I wasn't in the top three rounds I'm coming back no question," Butt said. "It would have to be a top-three round deal for me to consider coming out.

"That's what I've been hearing, I would be top three rounds; that's why I'm considering it. It's going to go back to what Coach Harbaugh says because I trust him so much and value his opinion."

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The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Butt was second in receiving this year for the Wolverines. Butt had 620 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season and will begin preparations with his teammates for Michigan's Citrus Bowl appearance against Florida on New Year's Day.

He has spoken to former Michigan players in the NFL, Jake Ryan, Taylor Lewan and Devin Funchess, and weighed their input while also considering the fact he has had a torn ACL and could risk injury next fall playing at Michigan. Making a decision quickly would allow him to start making plans for preparing for the NFL combine or focus completely on preparing for the bowl and the upcoming season.

Butt did say the NFL money is intriguing, but he's also mindful of his knee injury and how former Michigan players talk, not flatteringly, about how the NFL is a "business."

He is on schedule to graduate from Michigan next fall and is aware the NFL will pay for players to finish their college degrees.

Heading into this season, being in this situation at this point in his college career never occurred to him.

"It's still all crazy to me that I even have to make this decision," Butt said. "At the beginning of the year it wasn't even in my thoughts."

He also is considering what another season of playing in Harbaugh's offense might do for his stock in 2017.

"That's definitely something I've considered," Butt said. "Another year in this system really could allow me to make farther strides, another year in the weight room could make me stronger and faster and allow me to take my game to a whole other level."

He has aspirations at Michigan, like beating Michigan State and Ohio State, setting tight end records and, of course, winning a Big Ten championship. Butt joined several of the other Big Ten position award winners Saturday night during an on-field introduction at Lucas Oil Stadium before the Michigan State-Iowa game.

"I came here to be a part of greatness at Michigan and win some championships and rings," Butt said. "We came together as a class and leaving together as a class is important as well. Also being at the Big Ten championship this past weekend I was thinking, 'Man, it would be cool to be here playing in this stadium as a player.'"

When Butt was introduced before the game, he was loudly booed.

"That was great," he said. "I had to turn around and clap for them a little bit. It was awesome. I knew it was coming, too, so it was pretty cool."