Q&A with St. Anthony's T.J. Butzke

St. Anthony's midfielder TJ Butzke (10) attempts to St. Anthony's midfielder TJ Butzke (10) attempts to get the ball past Chaminade's James Brady (30) and James Harris (24). (Nov. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

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St. Anthony's senior attack T.J. Butzke, one of Long Island's top high school boys soccer players, committed to Boston University on March 19.

Butzke has made a habit of winning so far in his high school career. He had six goals and 12 assists last year as St. Anthony's went 21-1-2 and won the CHSAA state title. He was named to the Newsday All-Long Island team. So on the surface, Boston (6-10-1 last season) may not appear like the perfect match for Butzke. Except, it was for Butzke.

Clemson, Brown and Wake Forest, Butzke said, also were in the mix. Instead of choosing one of those athletic powerhouses, Butzke decided BU was a much better fit.

Why'd you choose Boston University?

TB: It was a process. I never thought I wanted a city campus. So when I first started talking to BU, I kind of marked it off right away. I was thinking that since it's in the heart of Boston, I wouldn't like it. I wanted a lot of grass and just the typical college experience.

Then I visited. I drove around Boston, I met the coaches, I met the players and they talk a lot about "the right fit" for colleges now when you're making your decision. I knew when I was walking off campus that day that it was the perfect place for me.

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How did your thought process change so fast?

TB: The team is up and coming. They had a lot of injuries last year and their 2014 class is good. So after talking to the coaches about that, I realized the program itself is going in a good direction. And when you're making a decision between bunches of schools, you definitely want to be in a place where you can succeed not only with soccer, but in the classroom as well. I want to study business and I walked around the business building and met a couple of professors. I could just see myself there. Everything about the school was what I was looking for after thinking it through.

How long did it take you to think things through?

TB: Well, I went on two visits. The first one was actually one of my first visits. I liked it. I didn't love it. Then I went to a bunch of other schools. I probably made 10-15 visits. When I came back to BU, it was my last visit and I realized there isn't really quite a school like Boston. In that time period, from my first visit to my last visit, was probably three months, but after the last visit, I committed the next day.

You were able to go to bigger and better athletic programs. Why didn't you go to one of those schools?

TB: One of the main reasons was that when I sat down with the BU coaches, they had a plan for my next four years that included me -- as long as I produce the way they know I can -- starting as a freshman or at least getting significant minutes. At Wake Forest and Clemson, it would've been very difficult for me to play as a freshman. Those schools told me straight-up that they don't really play freshmen. Sitting one year, especially at those schools with very good and hard academics, would have been tough for me. Boston provided a perfect combination of playing time as a freshman and a competitive school for learning. They were also very generous with me financially.

You joked last year that you're 4-11 with heels on. How did your size affect your recruiting experience?

TB: That was another thing with Boston. They put it out there right away, the fact I'm not a big guy at all. They said they have two recruits coming in that are 6-2 apiece that we're going to pair you with in the middle. It was the whole idea that they had a plan. I wasn't just some guy that was just going to be a part of a system. At some schools, it wouldn't have mattered what kind of player I was because I would've just been put into a player factory. At Boston, it was a more personalized experience.

That sounds flattering for a guy in high school. To what extent did the school go to make the recruiting experience tailored specifically to you?

TB: They brought me into the office and they had my next four years up on the screen just right in front of me. That was cool that they put that much time and effort and they even put the whole 2015 recruiting class kind of around me. As a player, it's cool to feel that type of way.

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