August 4th is D-Day for Brice Butler, one of the most heavily recruited receivers in the class of 2008. The 5-star standout is Scout.com's 6th ranked receiver in the nation, and to say he has his choice of any school is an understatement. Latest updates with Butler have stated that there are 8-10 teams still left in the race, but many feel it's down to two: Florida State and USC. Will he follow his father's legacy at FSU or commit to ESPN's team of the decade. He can't go wrong with any choice.
Brice had the rare chance to learn from a former pro, former Nole great and Atlanta Falcon, Bobby Butler. The work the two put in has paid off. Brice is possibly the best route runner in a very deep class of receivers. He accompanies that with an excellent set of hands. He gets off of the line of scrimmage well and can get down the field quickly. He has excellent quickness and good feet. The best way to describe his overall game is smooth.
Deciding between FSU and USC has to be a tough decision. Over the past 6 years FSU has struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball. Poor play calling and under use of high-level talent caused many recruits to choose other schools instead of playing for the ‘Noles. A 7-6 season in 2006 forced a coaching overhaul, one that looks to pay off sooner rather than later. One can look at the 2008 commitments and targets for FSU to see the changes already are having an effect.
USC has been the foremost college program over the past 5 years. One BCS championship, 3 Heisman winners, and several other bowl wins have led to ESPN calling the Trojans the team of the decade. Pete Carroll has a juggernaut going, and there doesn't seem to be an end to it anytime soon. For Brice, the choice comes down to being part of FSU's rebirth or helping continue USC's recent tradition of dominating receivers.
Brice has stated that he wants to come into the college of his choice and play as soon as possible. Florida State loses 2 seniors this year in Joslin Shaw and De'Cody Fagg. Another possible loss is Greg Carr, a player many feel may be an early entry into the NFL draft. FSU looks to have Richard Goodman, Rod Owens, Preston Parker, Damon McDaniel, Bert Reed, Brandon Paul and Cam Wade as receivers entering the 2008 campaign. There is a lot of skill there, but it's all unproven. For a player like Butler, the chance to come in and play looks like a real possibility.
USC has churned out many top NFL draft picks at the receiver position lately, and by looking at their depth chart that looks to continue. Patrick Tuner will be a junior this year, and with a good year look for him to possibly enter the draft. The depth at this position is one of the best in the country as the Trojans have young guns like David Ausberry, Vidal Hazelton, Travon Patterson, Brandon Carswell and Ronald Johnson looking for playing time. People cannot count out versatile players like C.J. Cable and Joe McKnight as kids who can play the receiver position. For Butler, it may be harder to get the playing time he wants at USC.
Depth charts aside, one of the most mitigating factors for Butler seems to be on-field production. There is no argument that FSU can't hang with USC on that aspect, at least right now. Former USC coach Lane Kiffin and new Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian have had a proverbial NFL factory going on. USC's coaching staff is what it is, great.
FSU has a few wild cards in the picture, those being coaches that have had success off and on the field. Jimbo Fisher had a very successful run as the Offensive Coordinator at LSU. He was the most sought after coach this past off-season. A national title and many top draft picks like Jamarcus Russell, Joseph Addai and Dwayne Bowe, are evidence enough of the success Fisher has had. Since coming to FSU, Fisher has provided a major face lift to the offense. The improvement shown throughout the spring and into the summer is almost immeasurable. Many insiders feel it will not take long for the old FSU to show back up under Fisher's tutelage. The fire and determination he brings is infinite.
What many fans are not considering is the potential impact Lawrence Dawsey can be for Brice Butler. Dawsey is a former All-American at FSU and was a high draft pick in the NFL. Not many coaches at his position can depend on his playing experience, which could have profound effects on potential recruits. He's been there & done that and that factor plays a role. His on-field success has translated into becoming one of the best receiver coaches in the country. He worked with Fisher at LSU and was able to coach the receivers in the potent attack at USF. Current Seminole receivers have given rave reviews to the confidence and ability Dawsey has brought to the program. For Butler and the other FSU targets in the 2008 class the possibilities of being part of the FSU revival has to be enticing.
The decision for Butler is going to be a tough one. There is always the possibility that a stunner may be pulled and Brice will go to LSU or even stay home and play with the Georgia Bulldogs. But evidence has shown that it's probably FSU or USC. One coaching staff will be getting a good kid and top-notch player; the other(s) will be left looking at other targets. Who will it be? Stay tuned to NoleDigest and Scout.com for the announcement on Saturday.