Nobody in Chicago influenced Butler more than coach Mike Ditka, whom the designated student assistant thinks of every time he gets candid with a Georgia punter or kicker.

As Butler has worked with Blankenship and the rest of the Bulldogs kickers and punters this week, he has recounted the 1983 Sugar Bowl in which No. 2 Penn State beat No. 1 Georgia.

“He was a mature student and great example,” said Robert Miles, the director of life skills for the Georgia athletic department and a starting defensive end on the Bulldogs’ last national champions in 1980. “Kevin took this challenge very seriously.”

“My mom kept me back because I couldn’t read,” Butler said. “It was horrific at the time, hiding from fourth-graders in the hall. But I learned how to deal with it.”

dhaugh@chicagotribune.com

Butler took five academic courses and was the oldest student in each classroom. One professor remembered Butler as the classmate who kicked a 60-yard field goal with 11 seconds left to upset No. 2 Clemson — in 1984. The guy whose kicking career included making clutch field goals in full stadiums never had noticed everybody watching him quite like this.

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