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Freshman Focus: Devin Butler

Jun 20, 2013, 8:09 PM EDT

Devin Butler

After looking at one of the highest profile recruits in the 2013 class, we focus on one of the most under-the-radar members of the #IrishMob. That’s to take nothing away from Washington D.C.’s Devin Butler, who fits the role of a perfect profile recruit.

From a size perspective, Butler delivers everything defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and co-coordinator, cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks likes. At a reported 6-foot-1, Butler has the length this staff covets. He brings the type of speed and athleticism you’d expect in an Irish cornerback prospect, with return game skills and ability a talented prep wide receiver.

Yet Butler might be his most impressive off the field. Coming from Gonzaga Prep, he’s a talented player at a school that has the opportunity to be very friendly to Notre Dame.

“What we really love about recruiting at Gonzaga is that these young men understand what it’s like to be here at Notre Dame,” Kelly said on Signing Day. “They’re in that kind of faith‑based environment. They understand that they’re going to be challenged in the classroom, so these are easy fits for us in the recruiting process.”

From an RKG perspective, Butler also fulfills that quota in spades. He plays for his older brother, who survived being shot five times in the back, and now watches all of Devin’s games from a wheelchair.

“I feel like I’m playing not only for myself but for him too,” Butler told a local news reporter last November. “He likes to say he walks through me.”

RECRUITING PEDIGREE

Butler isn’t a consensus Top 250 player, but does check in at No. 189 for 247 Sports, his highest rating. But if you’re looking for a reason to be bullish on Butler’s prospects, it’s the early offers he garnered before taking himself off the market back in April, ten full months before Signing Day.

Butler had just picked up offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, North Carolina and Maryland, but ended his recruitment after a spring trip to South Bend. (His high school coach said Alabama had just begun calling as well.)

With his length and reported speed, his recruiting cohorts should be a nice data-point for success.

EARLY PLAYING TIME OPPORTUNITIES

With a top three of Bennett Jackson, KeiVarae Russell, and Lo Wood well established, Butler fighting his way into the starting lineup like Russell did last season probably isn’t realistic. But there’s plenty of chances for Butler to see the field next season.

While it isn’t as dire as last season, there’s still a need, with depth behind those three up for grabs and Kelly believing Butler can fill in.

“He’s an exciting player that’s going to come in and compete immediately,” Kelly said of Butler on Signing Day.

It’ll be interesting to see how the freshman trio of cornerback recruits meshes with established veterans Josh Atkinson and Jalen Brown, who have a battle on their hands to not slip between the cracks.

PROJECTING THE FUTURE

Without seeing a high school cornerback mesh with the college game, it’s hard to say Butler is destined for stardom or reserve role. But he certainly has the tools the coaching staff looks for in a cornerback, and his early offer and commitment says quite a bit about what the staff sees in Butler.

Looking into the future, the 2013 group of Butler, Rashad Kinlaw and Cole Luke have the opportunity to play a key role in the secondary after the previous recruiting classes were dedicated to shoring up the safety position.

Both Wood an Russell will be around in 2014 (assuming a fifth year for Wood), but after that it’s anybody’s guess how this shakes out. If we’ve seen anything, it’s that the Irish prefer to use three corners, which makes the 2012 campaign all the more impressive.

All three freshman are intriguing athletes. While the smart money is on Luke making an impact early, there’s a lot to like about Butler, who might be one of the sleepers of the class.

  1. loadofwash - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    This reach will never get thru the first semester unless… Kelly works that eraser. He saw south end and saw the light, tells us all we need to know. If they’re looking for speed, they have their blinders on in this case.

    • goldenboy3 - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:07 PM

      There ain’t no ‘bama ‘raser round here. Of course no one can “pass them at all cost like a champion today” like they can, right load!?

      Parole Tide! (they are about due for another incident with thugs physically beating others or theft, but win no matter what, damn decent behavior, right load!). Man it just rolls off the tongue so nice, Parole Tide!!

    • bogtrottin - Jun 21, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      dude, this is getting really tiresome. are you 12 yrs old? please tell me you’re only 12. it would make me feel better to know that you still have time to grow up a bit.

  2. dudeacow - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    Keith, what is his reported speed? You keep tantalizing us with hints that he is really fast but never disclose his actual 40 time.

  3. mediocrebob - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Load is a penn st fan. Wannabe bama fan. Don’t let him fool you.

  4. loadofwash - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    If I only knew why you’re talk’n bout bama? Someone needs a friend. This kid was in prep which isn’t always about the loot.

  5. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 20, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    I know it’s off topic, but the major news of the day has me semi-captivated…the Aaron Hernandez mess has been some interesting reading. That reading led me to this article about the great Urban Meyer….

    I know there was rumored interest from ND and vice-versa at one time, but thank touchdown Jesus that we didn’t get him as a head coach. How’s this for a coaches resume….

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-09-17/sports/os-florida-gators-arrests-list-20100915_1_frankie-hammond-second-degree-misdemeanor-charge-misdemeanor-possession

    • papadec - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      idrather – it might be easier to come up with a list of players who have not been in trouble.

  6. irishpuma - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    Idrather…..get ready to post your thumbs down…by no means am I an Urban lover but also not a hater. I read your article and was hoping for some juicy stuff but really??? All of that same stuff has happened at ND under Kelly. A little higher frequency at Florida but that was over twice as long a period. We have the alledged rape, alleged sex assault, multiple player’s party offenses, cop violence, drugs, cheating. At least in many of the cases according to the article Urban kicked them off the team. All of our guys stayed with the exception of Golson and that was a University decision not a coaching one.

    Don’t cast stones…. FYI all of that same stuff + vandalism, theft, drugs and roids occurred on the 88 NC team as well. And no Nude not insider info this is firsthand visual knowledge from events and life in the dorms. I wish we were cleaner and we are cleaner than most but not good enough in my opinion. In my day the student athletes had to attend class but in two classes I was involved in they were given a take home prior to the test which they had to find the answers too and then remember for the test. Fine line…….

    PS Idrather you never had a drink when you were under 21? some of the Florida offenses were just minors drinking. I should be locked up too then…guilty.

    In conclusion BK handled the Declan tragedy and the lizzie incident way to casually and fiippant IMO and I do hold him at fault there as well as a couple soon to be stars who should be nowhere near the field. Urban handled contract issues and poaching recruits and playing games less than above board as well. But in general unless it is recruiting, classes, payment how can you hold the coach totally accountable for these spoiled super stars. The coaches can only do so much. They can encourage good behavior, recruit RKG, and pray. But issues will always arise it is how they handle these situations where a coach and a University make their grade and should be judged on.

    For instance the coach who recently instituted a code of conduct if you put your hand on a woman you are off the team that simple should be applauded.

    And to the point look at even the Naval Academy Football team has three players suspended for alleged rape. At some point you can only do your best and bad people are going to bad things no matter what you do. Sorry I will get off the soapbox.

    Except for USC they are justified malcontents and felons!!! Go Irish.

    • 1historian - Jun 21, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Declan Sullivan – If I remember correctly just before he tipped over he texted to someone that he was 40 feet in the air – that does not argue a lot of common sense. What happened to him was tragic but when you’re 20 years old you think you’re going to live forever. I don’t think Kelly should be held responsible for it at all.

      I DO however think that the University should be held responsible. I worked for 36 years as a union construction worker, 3 of them in South Bend, and I know scissor lifts. I also know what the weather can be like around South Bend, as in suddenly.

      As a union laborer (Local 645) I had 3 layers of protection.

      #1 was my craft steward – he could say “no one goes up today.” That’s it.

      #2 was the safety man – he could say the same thing and no one could challenge him.

      #3 was my own common sense.

      Declan Sullivan had none of those protections – There was no one to speak up for Declan Sullivan and say to him – “nobody goes up today kid. Don’t worry about it.?”

      Did he go up knowing that it was dangerous but afraid to refuse because he was working to help pay his tuition? A harsh question, but one that should be asked. Of course we’ll never know.

      But remember if you will – there was no one to speak up for him, and that is not Kelly’s job.

      Remember too that the university stated “no one person can be held responsible”, which to me is a tacit admission that there was no one in enough of a position of authority to say “It’s too windy and no one goes up today.”

    • mtflsmitty - Jun 21, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Puma,

      Smartly written. Thanks for the thoughtful insight. The spirit of your post seems right on target. Agree coaches should set tone, establish clear expectations, execute their “process”. Agree they don’t truly have control.

      But no question the tone set by some conferences, universities, and coaches completely miss the mark. I’m not sure if its a function of the intent is to create an environment to allow for players to run amuck, or if its execution of policies that allow it. But clearly, some universities and coaches are better than others at running the cleanest programs possible.

      As for the “take homes” you describe, I’m interested to know if it was a study guide or an answer guide. As you stated, big difference, thin line. You witnessed this in two classes? We’re these the only two classes you shared with student athletes? Did you actually see the documents they received?

      Other ND grads have similar / different experiences in how student athletes are treated at ND?

      • irishpuma - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:14 AM

        smitty totally agree at ND we strive to be more and better and that is what I love! However I can’t turn a deaf ear when we fail.

        As to the academics it was 25 years ago….funny story I was sitting there in a test absolutely stumped on one question…and I must have been making noises or something and a major player leans over and says the answer to that question is……… and I asked how he knew and he said we get the questions the night before. I ended up not putting the answer down becuase it felt wrong…but it was funny I was like geez I must look dumb enough that the athletes are trying to help me. I also was partnered with another famous player and we had an oral presentation and I got sick but we were in football season so I was positive he had to go to present for our grade. See him on campus a day later and he asks me how the presentation went and I tell him you tell me. He was freaked out to say the least. We still got a good grade. I know we never gave the presentation but I can not recall if we were allowed to do extra credit or they went with our previous grades. By no means am I implying this is Miami or USC but it was a little disillusioning for a 17 year old catholic school boy.

        And I never saw any documents nor wanted to. I mostly played Tecmo Bowl with some of the players. And drank their protein shakes that Lou made them take and try to avoid getting beat downs from them. I was an athlete with full rides but Ricky Watters rolled me in a ball and pinched my hamstrings and balls and I was defenseless. He was man sized at 19 it was crazy. Ahh the good old days!!! Being able to go to 8 out of the 11 games in the NC year….Priceless!

      • 1historian - Jun 24, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        anyone out there remember ’99 Kline’?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Puma,

      I’m not giving a thumbs down for your post. I enjoy intelligent responses. So, thank you.

      To be completely honest, after reading the entire article, you’re right. Many of the offenses are “kids being kids” type stuff.

      Smitty conveyed the point i was trying to make better than i did. It seems like the “culture” or “environment” that resides within some of these football programs isn’t what it should be. And that, in my opinion, is a direct reflection of the head coach (and the people above him).

      Examples of this are seen all over the NCAA…Rutgers Basketball, North Carolina FB a few years ago, and the infamous Miami teams of the 80s-90s.

      With the Blue and Gold in my veins, I obviously have a skewed perspective. But speaking in general terms, I don’t think ND kids are viewed as “thugs” or athlete-students rather than student-athletes.

      So, having said that, I agree with much of what you have posted. But, having been a teacher and a coach, I believe 100% that if you sit down with a recruit and his parents you can get a very good idea what kind of student-athlete you are bringing into your program. And THAT is where Notre Dame seems to fair better than others. Generally speaking, a coach with any amount of experience should be able to determine what type of kid they are recruiting.

      • irishpuma - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        Idrather I agree with you 100% and I appreciate your takes as well. That is what makes this site so great there are some really intelligent people in here and some middle of the road types and then your bargain variety everyday trolls!

        The Blue and Gold has ran in my veins as well forever..3rd generation Domer here.

  7. yaketyyacc - Jun 21, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    Butler, more good news. keep it coming, Keith. poor “load” can’t keep up with you or ND. the wave of good news, is washing him….. watch out load, that’s the sewer.

  8. dbldmr - Jun 21, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Since load made the first comment (less than a half hour after Keith’s article was posted) it’s clear that he is ND’s most solid supporter. Anyone who hangs on Inside the Irish the way load does is either addicted or unemployed. That’s twice in a week that he was first in line to offer his insight, such as it is.

  9. nolanwiffle - Jun 21, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Same high school that produced Former ND basketballer, Tom Sluby (1981-84).

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Jun 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      as a kid, i can remember whenever tom sluby scored a bucket, the announcer would pronounce his name “tom sloooooooooobbbeeeeeee.”

  10. loadofwash - Jun 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Idrather…. Did they sit dwn w/ manti’s made up family ?

    • 1historian - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      dude – remember the old song “Hit me with your best shot!”

      If that is your best shot we have nothing to fear.

      Of course, we already knew that.

      Go Nittany Lions!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jun 21, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      Now his family is made up too? You must have some inside information Load.

      As a Penn State fan, I’d like your opinion on which is worse…

      A) An emotional relationship with a fictional girl

      OR

      B) A physical relationship with REAL little boys

      Have a great day! :)

  11. seanb20124 - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Former kicker David Ruffer is only Gonzaga man I recall coming to Notre Dame.

  12. loadofwash - Jun 21, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Come clean now “bog”. You like the Irish cause yo daddy told ya to. A little wisdom to pass your way; cable tv. The recruits have it and they know ND hasn’t been worth a crap since before they were born. ND may never be relevant again. They don’t play well with others. 42-14. Tell Johnny and Brady I said hi.

    • Keith Arnold - Jun 21, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      @loadofwash — Feel free to go away if you don’t feel like adding anything to the discussion.

      We’ll find back up trolls to fill your spot.

      Thanks,
      MGMT

      • papadec - Jun 21, 2013 at 9:31 PM

        Keith – don’t chase load away. When I get home, after working with “special needs” students & kindergartners @ school, and wondering why I still do it – he/she/it reminds me of why we need to work with the intellectually, emotionally & behavior challenged youth in our society. If we don’t – well there you go, we get a load.

    • 1historian - Jun 22, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      3 words should suffice

      1) December

      2) 31

      3) 1973

    • mediocrebob - Jun 22, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      I bet ALL the recruits saw the Irish in the NCG in January. Meanwhile, in Happy Valley…

  13. nchdomer - Jun 23, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Very smart and informed commentary by irishpuma, idrather and 1historian. Those posters, Keith and others make this a great site to discuss ND.

    All schools seem to have their share of stories involving football players being given inappropriate help with their grades or getting them out of trouble. ND is not immune to this but tries harder than most to aspire to the ideal – which is difficult to achieve in this or any era. If you read the stories about the Gipper you will see that he would have been a major problem in today’s instant information age. Remember, for many college students, whether ballplayers or not, college is their first taste of freedom away from home and most of us wanted to test the limits of that freedom at some point. It is one thing for schools to help the players get over their boorish behavior, it is quite another to accept it as routine and do nothing more than whitewash the conduct. I think ND falls into the former category and you can guess which schools fall into the latter.

    Summer is finally here. Enjoy. Autumn will be here soon enough. Very much looking forward to this season. I think we’ll be fine and Rees will lead us to a terrific season. We cheer for a school that teaches us to have faith. I have faith.

    • 1historian - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      At a point late last season ND was ranked #1 in Div 1 football and #1 in student athlete graduation rate. That has NEVER happened before and if it ever happens again it will probably be a repeat for Notre Dame.

      Facts are facts

    • irishpuma - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:42 AM

      NCH domer well said I could not agree more. Why we are not saints we do try and you are absolutely right that is the difference. And when push comes to shove the campus usually does the right thing ie. Watters and Brooks suspension before USC circa 1988. And trust me that was not Holtz or team violations.

      Historian I have faith and I hope you are right and I always relish football season no matter our record. We only diverge on the fact that I have faith in the trinity and the almighty but not inTommy Rees. My God is not that strong to grant me that kind of faith =) Plus he has no real interest in Football otherwise we would not have to be such long suffering fans!

  14. shaunodame - Jul 4, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Im a huge fan of these Bigger DB’s, especially CB’s, that we’re getting lately. A physical secondary can go a LONG way against many of these finesse 5-Wide Spread teams.

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