Huskies’ defense hits it off

SEATTLE – Nine months is a long time with no one to flatten.

So when the University of Washington football team donned pads for the first time Thursday afternoon, middle linebacker Donald Butler was laying people out like his frustration had been building.

He blasted running back Chris Polk on the first snap of a running drill, then stuffed Johri Fogerson with a jarring hit two snaps later.

“Whenever you go however-many-months without hitting anybody, as a linebacker, you get antsy,” Butler said this week. “I couldn’t wait to hit somebody.”

The way Butler was hitting people, it looked as if the senior and team leader had been spending every hour of his offseason preparing to get back on the field. But that’s only partially true.

Butler did take a couple of days off in January, and he had a pretty good excuse. His mother got two tickets to President Obama’s inauguration speech, so the two of them flew out to Washington, D.C., and attended the event.

“It was crazy, really crowded,” Butler said. “It was good to be there, though. I’ll be able to tell my children and my grandchildren that I was there for a part of history.”

After sitting a few hundred yards away from the leader of the free world, Butler got back to the task at hand – that is, being the leader of the Huskies’ defense. Along with senior E.J. Savannah and junior Mason Foster, UW’s linebacking corps is the most experienced unit on the entire team.

While all three linebackers bring a wealth of experience, it’s been awhile since they played together. Savannah quit the team before the 2008 season, only to return last spring under the new coaching staff.

“It feels great,” the Bellevue High School product said. “This is my home, and it feels good being here.”