UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- In a Prince George’s County match Sept. 19, Douglass (Upper Marlboro, Md.) came away with a 32-22 win against visiting Friendly (Fort Washington, Md.). TT was on hand to scout Terps’ safety commit Devin Butler, who had five tackles in his team’s victory.
A scouting report is below, while a video interview with Butler can be seen above:
Although Butler plays quarterback for Douglass, we evaluated him purely from a defensive standpoint since that’s what he’ll be playing at Maryland. An athletic, aggressive and fleet-footed defender, Butler has a chance to have an impact -- provided he continues to work and improve.
Physically, Butler has ideal size for a college free safety at 6-feet-3, 190 pounds. He has a long, sinewy frame, decent-length arms and large hands, which, coupled with his above average vertical leap, should aid him in coverage.
Perhaps the best part of Butler’s game right now is his never-back-down style. For a guy who’s spent his life playing quarterback, Butler certainly isn’t afraid to mix it up with defenders. He aggressively attacks the ball and is willing to rise up with wideouts in traffic, showing plenty of physicality.
Even more impressive, Butler pursues passes like he’s the intended target. The old coaching cliché suggests defensive backs are defensive backs because they can’t catch or run routes, but maybe not in this case. We’re not sure how good of a route runner Butler is, but he looks to have soft, natural hands.
Also, Butler actively anticipates plays, a product of his time spent under center. It’s obvious he’s adept at reading offensive tendencies and breaking on the ball. Butler’s proficient at identifying wideouts who cross his face as well.
Speaking of breaking on the ball, Butler drives hard at the snap, bee-lining downhill. He flashes standout closing speed, allowing him to undercut routes. Moreover, while Butler spends much of the time in centerfield, but he can be active in the box too, shooting forward to help cut down running backs.
In centerfield, Butler has natural speed, which translates to a large coverage area. Butler didn’t have to span the entire defensive backfield Sept. 19, but he looks to have sideline-to-sideline range.
Furthermore, Butler breaks down well and shows the ability to pick up/switch off receivers.
The main area of concern right now, however, is Butler’s technique. Fact is, many of the above qualities will be compromised at Maryland if he doesn’t master his fundamentals. Butler can stay with receivers now, for example, but it’s in spite of his faulty footwork.
And, really, it’s the footwork that needs the most work. Butler’s backpedal, in particular, can be a bit mechanical as it’s obvious he’s thinking about his steps instead of them coming second nature. Moreover, sometimes he crosses his feet when changing direction or switching on/off wideouts. Once in awhile you’ll see him lose a step because his steps are off. Thus, he has trouble sticking to wideouts throughout their routes.
Also, we detected some hip stiffness; he didn't look especially fluid or natural in coverage. Moreover, Butler's momentum is sapped when turning and running, while he tends to have trouble changing direction. He has some issues recovering and offering over-the-top help. If receivers get behind him, Butler could have problems surrendering long passes downfield. He has speed and quickness, but that will only carry him so far.
In the air, Butler has to hone his ball kills. He must learn how to high-point and better position himself to make plays down the field.
Next, Butler has to work on his tackling and tackling form. While he’s not afraid to stick his nose in a pile, he tends to give runners the “alligator arm,” allowing too many yards after contact. Sometimes Butler will even lower his head and go for a back’s ankles, allowing said back to leap over him/shake the tackle.
While on the subject of tackling, note that Butler doesn’t always take the tightest of closing angles. Even when coming forward in coverage, Butler will take circuitous routes every now and again (i.e. rounding out instead of running straight).
Last but not least, Butler must build up his body. Right now, he’s fairly thin and has to add muscle mass in order to hang in the Big Ten.