Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers make sure there’s one thing rookie kicker won’t miss

Carolina Panthers rookie kicker Harrison Butker tweeted Friday night that the team was allowing him to leave early for graduation at Georgia Tech.
Carolina Panthers rookie kicker Harrison Butker tweeted Friday night that the team was allowing him to leave early for graduation at Georgia Tech. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It turns out new Panthers kicker Harrison Butker was able to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp ... and attend commencement exercises at Georgia Tech.

Butker, drafted in the seventh round last week to compete with Graham Gano, thought he was going to miss Saturday’s graduation in Atlanta because of the two-day minicamp.

But Butker tweeted Friday night that the Panthers were allowing him to leave early for graduation. Butker’s agent said team officials surprised the kicker with the news and then drove him to the airport.

In his tweet, Butker described the Panthers as a “first class organization that puts family and education first.”

Butker will graduate with a 3.2 GPA in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, where he finished as the school’s career scoring leader and was a member of the dean’s list.

Butker is the first drafted kicker in Panthers’ history. He signed his contract Friday, drilled several long field goals through a blustery wind at an afternoon practice, then found out he was headed home to Atlanta.

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Carolina Panthers rookie Harrison Butker, center, the first drafted kicker in Panthers’ history, walks to Friday’s second session of rookie minicamp practice with punter Hayden Hunt, left, and long snapper Daniel Dillon. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Earlier this week he told the Observer he was OK with missing graduation to get started on his NFL career.

“My focus is on football now,” Butker said. “So whatever’s asked of me, I’m going to be there for it. I’m not going to miss it for anything.”

He ended up not having to miss a thing.

Former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware got to Bank of America Stadium early on Thursday, May 4, 2017. So he took a nap ... "just kind of chilled in my car" ... before it was time to report for Carolina Panthers rookie minicamp.

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