Countdown to Camp 2017

Countdown to Camp: Devin C. Butler has the speed and Dino Babers has the need

Courtesy of SU Athletics

Devin C. Butler (13) goes for a tackle at Connecticut last season on special teams.

Position: Wide receiver
Year: Sophomore
Ht: 6-3
Wt: 196

Why he’s key for SU: Devin Butler is important because his skill set aligns with head coach Dino Babers’ vision. Butler is new and fast.

Last season, amid a crowded receiving corps, Butler broke onto the field as a true freshman. There, he flashed the speed and leaping ability that makes him a threat on the outside.

Now, with the departures of Amba Etta-Tawo, Brisly Estime and Alvin Cornelius, there are 204 targets from last season available. Despite being listed in the third receiver slot with SU’s second-largest receiver, Jamal Custis (6-5, 227 pounds), Butler’s upside makes him a candidate to absorb at least some of those targets. He pointed that out himself in April.

“There’s less receivers, so I get more reps,” he said. “… It’s a lot easier than it was last year, because we get more reps.”

He showcased his growth in Syracuse’s spring game on April 22, when receiver Devin Butler beat cornerback Devin Butler one-on-one for a jump ball on a heave from midfield to the end zone.

Still, inexperience remains, and he missed the final six games last season because of a foot injury, per multiple reports. His two catches on four targets against Notre Dame, though, at least signaled promise and rapid growth for someone who hadn’t played the position full-time in at least four years, if ever.

At Frederick Douglass (Maryland) High School, he played quarterback — passing for 591 yards and rushing for 702 yards — while Scout.com also ranked him the fifth-best safety prospect in the state. Before committing to Syracuse in 2016, Butler previously pledged to Maryland, where he was recruited as a defensive back. He decommitted following a Terrapins’ coaching change.

There are things to work on, such as his release and hands, but if Butler acclimates to his new position in year two, he should strongly contend for a starting position on the outside.

And if he doesn’t, Babers still might find ways to use him on the field. Even last season at training camp, Butler spent time at running back. Wherever he ends up, he’ll get there fast.

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