During the night of Maryland's Big Show Camp June 27, Frederick Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.) safety Devin Butler admitted he couldn't sleep a wink. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder didn't attend the major Terps' event, but his Twitter account was lighting up with updates from friends and acquaintances in College Park, Md. Around 9:30 p.m., Butler received word that UMD had just landed yet another defensive back, Woodson's (Washington, D.C.) Parnell Motley, meaning the Terps now had five secondary pledges with perhaps one or two openings remaining.
"It’s like, I thought I had more time. I didn’t think other guys would commit so soon. I was slacking man," said Butler, who picked up a Maryland offer June 24 at a one-day camp, his only Division I scholarship besides Toledo. "I should’ve committed the moment I got the offer (laughs). I almost missed the boat. Thank goodness there was still room (laughs)."
Sans sleep, Butler went for an early-morning jog June 28 and then prepared for a weekly training session with his school's defensive backs coach (they call him "J.B."). He gave it until about 9:15 a.m. before calling his UMD recruiter, Mike Locksley, followed shortly thereafter by head coach Randy Edsall.
"Honestly, all last night I wasn’t able to sleep because I was just thinking about committing," Butler said. "I was thinking about how Maryland was the first school there for me when I got to Douglass, how they showed me so much love at the camp I went to, I thought of the class coming in with me, and I thought of my mom. I couldn’t let the opportunity go.
"So in the middle of the workout with Coach J.B., I was like, 'What am I doing?’ I had to call Coach Locksley and tell him. I was like, ‘Hold on Coach, I gotta make a call real quick (laughs).’"
Thus, Butler became Maryland's 15th class of 2016 pledge and sixth defensive back commitment. A quarterback throughout his high school career, Butler is slotted to play safety in College Park.
"Coach Locksley and Coach Edsall were both really excited when I told them I was coming. They both asked if I was ready and I told them, ‘I’m always ready,'" Butler said. "But, honestly, I didn’t really expect all this to happen. I mean, I thought I was going to be a quarterback in college, but I also realize that I play in a triple-option offense and don’t really project to play that position at the next level. So after talking to some people I trust, I knew with my measurables that I could make a good defensive back if I worked at it.
"I know I can play quarterback, and some schools like Toledo did offer me for quarterback, but I think I can go further as a DB. And, honestly, I wanted to be around my family, my friends and represent the DMV. That chance definitely was something I couldn’t pass up."
Butler's commitment was as much his own as it was his mother's. The two are very close, Butler saying his mom is "my biggest fan." When he popped to the local university, it was, in a way, a thank you to his greatest supporter.
"My mom more than anyone wanted me at Maryland. She hates to miss a game; she’s never missed one of my games in her life," Butler said. "All the people I’m close with, people I want to be around, they were like, ‘Come on, go to Maryland.’ And my mom, she was right there at the front; she was so happy when I got the offer. It was like a dream come true for her, and now I'm going to keep working so I can keep making her proud."
The District Heights, Md., native, who has lived outside of D.C. his entire life, said he owed "a whole lot" to Locksley as well. Butler said he's know his Terps' recruiter since he enrolled at Douglass, and the two have remained in contact for upwards of three years now.
"Coach Locks is the first college coach I ever saw when I got to Douglass. He never gave up on me. He kept saying, ‘Just get your grades straight and we’ll take care of you,’" Butler said. "He’s been up at the school, hitting me on twitter, just making sure everything is good. Everything has been so cool with him.
"And I trusted him that he was going to keep his word if I did my part, and he did. I got my grades up, I went to the camp, and they offered. So that really says a lot about him; he’s a great guy."
Butler is still in the process of learning about his future destination as the June 24 one-day was his first foray to College Park in more than two years. He and his mother are planning out a visit at some point later this summer just to gain more insight into Randy Edsall's program.
"I only got to see Maryland briefly at the camp, but I do love the stadium, how everything is set up right on campus, and how they're building these crazy new facilities," Butler said. "And the coaches were telling me my major, criminology, is No. 1 in the country there, so that's big. It all sounds like a great opportunity for me, especially since it's like 10 minutes from my house."
Indeed, Butler is yet another DMV talent heading to the hometown school. He called the rest of UMD's 2016 class so far "really special" and can't wait to join them on Signing Day this February.
"The Terps have a lot of talent coming in from Maryland and D.C., and there’s going to be multiple [local] stars on the field," Butler said. "And the cool thing is everyone’s family is going to get to see us all, and that’s only going to help get more guys from around here to Maryland, because those [families] are going to tell other people how special it is to watch their kids at Maryland."
It's a credit to Butler's off-the-field work that he even has a scholarship from Maryland. While he never gave up the dream of lining up under center, he heeded his coaches' words and began honing his defensive back skills as well. Butler never played a down of safety at Douglass, but he worked as a receiver and safety during some 7-on-7 matches, while spending hours in his backyard going through ladder drills and the like. Not to mention the weekly sessions he attended with Coach J.B.
The individual effort paid off as Butler impressed Maryland defensive back coach Darrell Perkins during a June 24 one-day camp. Butler said Perkins lauded his ball-tracking skills, breaks and athleticism. He also ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, further enticing Edsall and Co.
Three days after the scholarship was presented, Butler jumped on it, which was kind of like coming full circle for him.
"When I was five years old, I started out as a safety and a receiver, so I guess you could say I'm going back to my roots," Butler said, laughing. "I started at quarterback when I was eight because no one else could throw the ball on my team. I've been a quarterback ever since, but I'm just fine with going back [to safety]. I'm ready for it."
Butler acknowledged there are still plenty of questions surrounding him. He said he has much to prove and is eager to do so in the months and years ahead.
"I’m going to give the Maryland coaches my best. I’m giving them the best I have," said Butler, threw for 800 yards, rushed for 1,000 and had 29 combined touchdowns last year. "I’m getting my footwork together, getting my breaks together, getting my fundamentals down so I can have a successful career at Maryland. I can't wait to get there, and it's going to be a fun next few years."
Butler 'Couldn't Pass Up' The Terps
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