The Terps secured a commitment from safety Devin Butler (Frederick Douglass/Upper Marlboro, Md.) June 28, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, J.C. Pinkney, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-3, 190-pound converted quarterback. Check out our question-and-answer session below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, it’s been awhile since we first chatted about Devin back when he was a freshman. I remember you told me then he was going to be special. And now he’s committing to Maryland…
J.C. Pinkney: Man, I’ll tell you, this kid is special. But it’s a credit to him; he worked his butt off, he went up there to [Maryland’s] camp, and he earned that offer. He was really excited about it, and just took a few days to mull things over, but he’s going to be a really good fit there.
But I knew he had that kind of potential. And I knew when Locksley [Maryland area recruiter Mike Locksley] called me before the camp and told me they were looking at Devin at safety, and if he tested well he’d get the offer, well, I knew he’d get that offer. I had complete confidence that Devin would test well and do his thing. He plays quarterback for us, but he’s just a great athlete, and I knew he was going to show [the Terps’ coaches] something.
TT: Can you break down what Devin is going to bring as a safety? I know he’s a quarterback for Douglass, but what kind of potential does he have a DB?
JP: Well, he’s definitely a three-position player. He can play at that level at all three positions: quarterback, receiver or safety. And he can do it at a very high level.
I know [Maryland is] looking at him at safety, but he has the tools to play any of those three spots. He’s a very cerebral kid on the football field, he runs a 4.4 40, legitimately, and he’s an unbelievable athlete.
Then you add in that he’s about 6-3, 190 [pounds], and he runs a legit 4.4, and he’s been four years on varsity and is a winner --he’s the second all-time winning quarterback at Douglass with 32 victories – and there’s a lot he brings to the table. You’re not just getting the physical qualities Devin brings, but you get a lot of intangibles as well.
TT: Sure, but what does he does have to do to refine himself and get ready for the Big Ten?
JP: Obviously he’s going to have to get more experience playing defense, and we plan to play him at safety this year. He’s been working on his defensive back skills and fundamentals, but obviously he’s going to have to really get into the finer details of the position to be successful.
The good thing for Devin is I don’t think Maryland is thinking about playing him right away. He’ll probably redshirt, which will give him another year to really get the safety position down. I think Devin has the athleticism to play if they needed him to, but the plan is probably for him to take a year and really learn under the coaches there.
And then he has to keep getting stronger and work on his physicality. He goes through some tackling drills with us, but he’s our quarterback, so it’s not like we’re going to expose him in practice. He’s really going to have to get more involved in that this year, and we’re going to allow him to do that.
But Devin is going to have to keep working on tackling, and it’s something he’ll have to prove at the next level. He’ll have to keep adding strength and bulk, and show he can be a sound tackler.
TT: As a quarterback I’d assume he’d be a natural leader. What’s Devin like around his teammates?
JP: He’s a fun-loving kid, man. He gets along with a lot of people. He’s serious when he needs to be, but he can laugh with you too. Devin is a reliable kid, he’s a hard worker and he’s someone that always shows up and is always prepared.
Devin is our anchor on the field, and he’s someone who is going to be a four-year varsity starter. The other kids follow him and look up to him, and he leads both on and off the field.
We’re really excited about what Devin is going to do for us next year, and in the future too.
TT: When did you first know Devin could play at a high level in college football? Was it that first year when he started on varsity as a freshman?
JP: I’m going to be honest, I knew he had Division I potential as a ninth grader when he walked into Douglass. He came in as a 6-foot quarterback with all kind of potential. He could throw the ball, sure, but he was also a freak athlete and he had that ideal frame. You take one look at this kid as a ninth grader and project down the road, and you’re like, OK, this is one we have to keep an eye on.
But the thing with Devin that you couldn’t see just by looking at him is his will to win. The kid just rises to the occasion. I mean, he took us to the state championship game his freshman year, and has been a winner every year he’s been here.
TT: Do you have a favorite Devin Butler moment? Was there a play he made that really hit home with you?
JP: Devin has done so many amazing things and made so many amazing plays, I really can’t point to one. From his very first high school touchdown run against Spalding, when he went 97 yards for a touchdown. From him in the playoffs a couple years ago, looking all around deep inside our territory with no one to throw to, and he pulls [the ball down] and goes for a long touchdown. From him picking up a memorable first down on a fourth-and-long against South Carroll in the playoffs. From him being bottled up in the state semifinals last year, and he breaks away from three tackles and goes for 50 yards.
I mean, Devin just makes things happen. That’s what’s made him so successful at the quarterback position. The kid just finds a way to get it done.
TT: Whenever I talk to Devin, he mentions his mother. How close is that relationship between those two?
JP: It’s a great relationship, man. His mom is a huge supporter; she’s always at the games, and she’ll be there cheering him on rain, shine, hot, cold. Devin relies on his mom a lot, and he confides in her. Those two are always together, and there’s never a game when she’s not in the stands, no matter where we’re playing.
I know she wanted him close by in college, and when he got the offer from Maryland, she didn’t push him [to commit], but she definitely voiced her opinion on the matter (laughs). I know she’s very happy Devin is going there.
TT: I wanted to ask you a little about Maryland. I know you’ve known Coach Locksley for a long time, but just from covering football in Prince George’s County and around the area, you hear things sometimes about the Terps being slow to offer kids down there. There’s always a buzz from that county primarily; what are your thoughts on that?
JP: Well, first of all I have a great relationship with Coach Locksley. He’s a straightforward guy, he’s always down here and he lets you know where you stand. He gets back to you and is very honest.
Their process is their process. Coach [Randy] Edsall, he makes sure you add up academically. That may cost them a kid or two from the area, and it might ruffle some feathers of some people, but they want kids who are on-point academically. They’re very thorough about that, and they make sure the kids they recruit are going to have it together in the classroom. If not, they’re not going to offer you.
And that’s how it was with Devin. Coach Locksley let Devin know what he had to do to get an offer, and Devin did it. He got his SAT scores up, he got his GPA up, and Coach Locksley kept his word and they offered him.
Coach Locksley and Coach Edsall did what they said they were going to do, so I don’t have any problems at all with them.
TT: Thank you Coach. Anything else you want to say about Devin?
JP: Just that it’s been a blast to coach him for four years now, and we can’t wait to see what he does this year. We want Devin to go out as the all-time winningest quarterback at Douglass, and he can do that if we win the state championship and go undefeated this year. Our school-record is 45 wins, and Devin is at 32. So if we run the table and go 14-0, then he’ll be No. 1 at Douglass. That’s the goal.
Coach Speak: J.C. Pinkney On Devin Butler
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