Brice Butler is a verg long-limbed football player. He looks quite a bit like Jerry Rice did in pads. He has long arms and long legs, which play a big factor into the kind of player he is. He has good size but not great size.
Technique is the name of Brice Butler's game. You can tell he is a very well-coached young man. Very few high school receivers possess the understanding of the receiver position. Brice does everything at top speed. One thing I use to always harp on with my receivers was do everything fast, make everything look like a go route. I would have loved to coach Butler in this department. He has a great initial burst off the line of scrimmage, quickly eats up the cushion of the defender, and makes everything look like a go route. Tremendous.
The Norcross, Ga. native has a superb understanding of how to run routes for a high school football player. You can see him attacking the leverage of his defender and setting him up for the various routes he will run. Once he is into his routes he does a very good job of sinking his hips and quickly exploding out of his out cuts. There is very little wasted motion in his routes. He does a good job of selling the out as well in order to get inside for posts, slants, and in routes.
Just when you think another out or comeback is coming, he slams you hard outside only to beat you to the post. I also like watching him work an in or curl route against the zone. You can see him do two things which I teach my receivers. The first is to find the football and go where the quarterback takes you. It's easier for the quarterback to see the window. You teach your quarterback to throw the ball into the window, and the receiver to go get it. The second thing is to keep working in your route. Don't just curl up and sit there. If the ball isn't on the way keep moving, whether be in or out, keep working. Butler does this well.
The 6-foot 2, 190-pound receuver also reacts very well after the catch. Once he makes the catch he works to get more. He knows where his openings are and where the defenders aren't. Combine that with his quickness and solid stiff arm he's going to be able to make some plays after the catch.
Finally, I really like the way Butler uses his body to shield defenders from the football. Body positioning with the ball in flight is usually one of the last things I taught my receivers. We would work on it, but more often than not a guy either had it or he didn't. He obviously has it. This has more to do with just slowing down for an under-thrown pass or speeding up for a ball thrown too far. What makes a guy really effective at this is knowing where the ball is heading and cutting off the defenders angle to the pass. It also entails adjusting your speed mid-throw then bursting at the last second to the football in order to create separation. Butler shows a natural ability with this skill.
At times he tends to over do it a bit in his routes. He'll get himself in bad position by going to wide or to much inside. He can get away with this in high school, but against Division I opponents he'll get re-routed or jammed as he attempts to get back into his route. He'll also need to learn how to use his hands better at the snap as well once he gets up on a defender. Again, he can get away with this in high school, but against better players it will hurt him. Butler is very aggressive to the football on his out cuts. It's one of my favorite traits about him. He really works to the football and never allows the defender to get back to him. But on his post routes and slant routes he tends to let the ball come to him and at times even drift away. This is actually a natural reaction by most kids. It's something that will have to be emphasized with him, and something I'm sure he'll correct.
Let's get the speed thing out of the way. He is a very smooth football player, but Brice Butler is not a burner. He won't go out there this summer and put up tremendous 40 times. I know a large number of Notre Dame fans are clamoring for a "burner" who can make plays deep. As I've said over and again that is one of the most overrated and wrong-headed views on the receiver position. A guy with good to pretty good speed is going to be able to get open deep if he is a great route runner, has good size, and has good quickness. Brice possesses each of those, as well as solid speed. He isn't slow by any means; he just isn't this "burner" everyone is looking for. I've talked already about his tremendous body control.
I love the footwork of this young man. We talked about it in his route running. He's got very quick feet, is able to get in and out of his cuts with little wasted motion, and really explodes out of his breaks. He also is able to get to his top speed right away. He does this at the snap but also at the top of his routes and after catching the football. This also ties into his ability to change direction during his routes as well as with the ball in his hands.
As discussed earlier Butler has a knack for making people miss after the catch. He doesn't do this by a bunch of jukes, but rather by making the catch and quickly working away from the defense or quickly squaring up the defender and running by him.
I would also like to see Brice explode up to the football more. He catches the ball high, but at times tends to drift away from the defender. Again, this is something he can get away with in high school but will have to improve on as he transitions into college. He is a good leaper but not a great leaper, so he'll need to max out his vertical.
In a great year for receivers I'd put Butler in my top ten for sure. He doesn't possess the top end speed of a guy like A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but brings a much better understanding of the position. This will give him a tremendous opportunity to come in and compete for playing time right away wherever he goes. He is far from a finished product. There is still much work to be done with his technique and knowledge. He'll also get bigger, stronger, and faster as most players do. Butler really has a nice upside and would be a tremendous addition to this recruiting class.
In the Film Room: Brice Butler
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