Harrison Butker, the Chiefs new rookie kicker, kicked the game-winning field goal in week 4 against the Washington Redskins. In a game that started poorly for the rookie, he remained focused and had an NFL debut some players only dream of. But who is Harrison Butker? Before this past week, not many people could tell you much of anything about the 22-year-old. Let’s take a look at the road that Harrison Butker took to get to where he is now.
High School and College Career
Harrison Butker grew up in Decatur, Georgia. He attended Westminster High School and his first year playing competitive football was in his sophomore year. He was also a multi sport athlete in which he played four years of soccer, winning three state titles, and lettered in basketball and football for three years. Butker was named All-State kicker in 2011 and 2012. He also holds the school records for longest field goal (53 yards) and most field goals in a season (16.)
Butker was a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket fan growing up and thus chose to attend there to play football after graduating high school. As a true freshman, he played in all 13 games and was the team’s leading scorer. As a sophomore, he set the Georgia Tech record for most PATs in a single season with 65/66 makes. In his senior year as a Yellow Jacket, Butker made 46/46 extra points and only missed two field goals. He is Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer and is third in school history with a 71% field goal percentage.
NFL Draft and Pro Career
The Carolina Panthers selected Butker in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He earned the honor of being the first kicker drafted in team history. He had a good preseason making both his field goal attempts and going 4/4 on extra points. Unfortunately for Butker, he lost the starting kicker battle to veteran Graham Gano. The Panthers waived him shortly after, but he resigned to the practice squad the very next day.
The Kansas City Chiefs placed kicker Cairo Santos on IR on September 26 and subsequently waived him. They picked Butker off the Panthers practice squad. When asked about picking up Butker from the Panthers special teams coach Dave Toub said that he was the top kicker in the draft for them. The Chiefs weren’t looking for a kicker during the draft but he was at the top of their list if they had a need. With a prime time game against the Redskins approaching, Butker needed to prepare quickly and get settled in.
With ten seconds left before halftime in the Chiefs’ week 5 matchup with Washington, Head Coach Andy Reid called Butker’s number to go in and try to tie the game. In his very first NFL kick, Butker hooked it wide left. Even after that miss, he kept his spirits high. He reassured Reid that everything was fine and he would be ready for the next kick. Butker followed up his first miss by hitting 26 yard and 32 yard field goals later in the second half. Then, with eight seconds left and the game on the line, Butker had his chance at redemption. He booted home the 43 yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 23-20 victory with four seconds left. With such a whirlwind NFL debut, Butker burst onto the scene and will look to continue that momentum into week 5 as the Chiefs look to stay unbeaten.