When you think of a record holder in career receptions from a major Division One football program, you hardly think of a 5-foot-10 168 pound guy who came to the school as a walk-on at defensive back.
While Deon Butler lacks size, he still made his presence felt on the field at Penn State.
Mel Kiper, ESPN’s draft guru, told Pennlive.com just after Butler was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with 91st overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft that he had the wideout ranked higher than teammate Derrick Williams, the number one overall recruit coming into college in 2005 according to Rivals.com.
“[Butler] made an impact play just about every game,” Kiper told Pennlive.com.
At the NFL Combine, Butler ran the fourth fastest 40-yard dash with a time of 4.38 seconds, but some reports had him listed running as fast as 4.28.
Despite having fleet feet, Butler said that he did not think of himself as a one-dimensional receiver and that is why the Seattle Seahawks picked him in the third round.
“They drafted me here because they knew I run good routes, Butler told The Seattle Times in early May. “I never really relied on my speed in college. I’ve always felt good about my route running skills, how fast you get in and out of your cuts.”
The Seahawks shipped the 137th and 213th overall picks in the draft to the New York Giants in order to move up in the draft and get him.
“They showed a lot of interest in me, trading up, and I want to show them I’m worth it,” Butler said, after he was picked during a conference call with reporters covering the draft.
His speed, hands, and route running abilities could come in handy for the Seahawks this year, as Butler can be used in the slot much like another famous former Nittany Lion, Bobby Engram, was used by the Seahawks. In the slot, Butler will be able to use his hands route running skills to play underneath coverage and be a possession receiver when Deon Branch and newly acquired T.J. Houshmandzadeh draw the attention of opposing teams’ secondaries, Butler’s speed will help by providing the Seahawks a much-needed deep threat. The Seahawks ranked 30th in the league last year in completed passes of 20 yards or more.
Even though training camp doesn’t start in Renton until July 30 for the Seahawks’ rookies, new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has already tested the speedy and sure-handed receiver both on and off the field.
According to ESPN.com’s Mike Sando, Butler made a 50-yard diving touchdown grab after outrunning cornerback Kevin Hobbs during the first day of the minicamp that took place in May. Also, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told Sando that Butler was repeatedly called on by Knapp during meetings and that Butler did a good well.
Butler isn’t getting ahead of himself though, he still knows he has work cut out in order to get playing time this year, let alone make the Seahawks final roster in September, but that he’s used to that thanks to his early days in Nittany Lion blue and white.
“I’m going to have at least three great receivers, maybe more in front of me,” Butler told Seahawks.com’s Tony Ventrella in April. “It’s nothing new for me to work hard and not start out at the top and not be the big man and just be a solid contributor, because that’s how I came into Penn State.”