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The Daily Wildcat

 

Injuries give Butler chance to eat up carries

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Kylan Butler 2011 Football

Kylan Butler has a big opportunity Saturday against NAU. It just didn’t come the way he’d hoped.

Butler, listed as Arizona’s No. 3 running back as a sophomore, will be senior Keola Antolin’s primary backup with the No. 2 back, sophomore Daniel Jenkins, out with a sprained ankle suffered at the Wildcats’ Meet the Team Night.

“I always ask him every day if he’s doing all right,” Butler said. “I never want to get ahead by one of my teammates getting hurt. That’s my boy.”

Still, Butler isn’t going to shy away from his chance to be one of the team’s top backs, especially after getting only three carries for 14 yards during his first two years at Arizona.

Saturday will be Butler’s first extensive game action after spending nearly two entire seasons on the sideline. But Butler isn’t the type to get nervous. Instead, he’s chomping at the bit to get on the field.

“I’m anxious to get out there, ready to go,” Butler said. “I feel confident about what I need to do.”

Butler has only appeared in one game in his career — last year’s contest against the Citadel — so he isn’t working with a wealth of game experience. But he’s made the most of his limited time, learning more about himself as a player with each rep he got.

Now it’s time for Butler to take what he’s learned in limited game action and combine it with things he’s picked up in two years of practice. Running backs coach Garret Chachere doesn’t see that being a problem.

“Kylan Butler is going to be someone we count on in every game,” Chachere said. “He’s very steady and knows all of his assignments — fullback assignments, tailback assignments. He’s someone that if we lose him, that’ll be a big hole in the running back room.”

Butler has been a standout in practice the past two years and has been named the scout team player of the week three times. At 5-foot-8, he also stood in as the 5-foot-6 Jacquizz Rodgers — the similarly diminutive yet powerful running back formerly of Oregon State — when Arizona was preparing for the Beavers last season.

Chachere described Butler as a smooth runner, and Butler said that he wants to be known as an all-around running back.

“I try to do everything,” Butler said. “I really want to be a hard-nosed runner, more shifty, pick up the blitz, come out of the backfield. I just want to do everything — anything I can do that’s possible.”

And if Butler performs Saturday, he’ll be rewarded. Should he able to find a rhythm, Chachere won’t go away from the hot hand.

“I’m like everyone else, I’m gonna deal with the guy that has the hotter hand,” Chachere said. “It’s like a quarterback or pitcher that’s in the zone and has the feel. It’s the same with a running back.”

Butler knows his coaches’ philosophy, and he said he knows a way to win their trust.

“Once you get in there and do something good, they give you another one,” Butler said. “They keep feeding you, and you keep eating.”

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