Butler made the right choice

CLEMSON - Crezdon Butler was given one choice when he arrived at Clemson from Asheville HS (NC) in 2006.

You get to choose between the two: offense or defense?

Recruited as an athlete, Butler played quarterback in high school. Pretty sure a professional career as a 5-11 wide receiver would be a tough one to come by, he figured his chances to be better at cornerback. Butler said, "I was pretty much just looking towards the NFL (when I decided).

"I had the mindset of a defensive player in high school but I got a chance to do it here," he said.

Looking back, the choice was a no brainer in perfect 20/20 vision.

Butler is third in school history in interception return yards (196). He needs 80 to become Clemson's career leader. He is ninth all-time in school history for takeaways (10 interceptions and two fumbles).

He's started every game at cornerback the last two years and played in 39 straight games tied for first with Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett in career interceptions among active ACC players (10).

Though he tied for the team lead with three interceptions as a freshman, things didn't always come easy.

"My freshman year I would make a mistake then I would be in a hole from there on," Butler said. "(The biggest change) has been my confidence level."

Full of confidence three years later, he and his fellow defensive backs are eager for the challenge Middle Tennessee will bring Clemson's way on Saturday.

"I think we prepared well for it. As a (defensive back) we are always ready for a challenge," Butler said.

If the offense struggles early, he's sure of the defense's ability to set a tone and build momentum. Experience, he said, should have the defensive unit ready for the Blue Raiders' five wide receiver sets under Tony Franklin.

From one extreme to another, Clemson's defense will have five days to prepare for Paul Johnson's option at Georgia Tech after Middle Tennessee.

"Georgia Tech has that option run, high school kind of offense where the defensive backs don't get a lot of chances," he said.

Butler and his colleagues in the secondary are well aware they have no room to look past Middle Tennessee.

Watching mostly film from Franklin's tenure at Troy to get a feel for his tendencies, Butler believes those plays could be along the same lines of Franklin calls in Death Valley on Saturday.

While watching Middle Tennessee film, Butler has really taken notice of the Blue Raiders' speed. Dwight Dasher's ability to tuck the ball and run from the quarterback position has forced more of an emphasis for Butler to stay with his man in coverage.

"They've got some really fast guys that play in the slots," he said. "The running backs are really good and they have a big receiver, (Chris McClover) who is like 6-6. "From the skill part of it, they could be dangerous. We've got to be up for the challenge."

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