If there are three things Matthew Butler can speak at length about it’s academics, football and accomplishing all goals in both at Tennessee.
The Garner, North Carolina, native put the finishing touches on his recruitment with a fifth and final official visit last weekend, making his way to Knoxville with his immediate family.
“It was really great food,” Butler said. “Whoever catered the food, a lot of props toward them. The first night, the restaurant we went to, they had some really good food, too. (Tennessee) coach (Butch) Jones likes transparency and is just down to earth. There’ve been times where I’ve been on an official visit or just a visit and the coach is not reachable, not obtainable, not easy to talk to. Coach Jones, he engages in conversation. He was like our friend for the weekend — he’s not going to be our friend for long, he’s going to be coaching us and being hard on us — but he was there, he was around, he was great.
“A lot of fun with my future teammates, good bonding time and we’re going to become each other’s worst enemy soon, too, but we all understand that and got to talk to see what we have in common and everything. Just an all-around enjoyable time. The transparency is really what stuck out and the food and also just spending time with my teammates and future teammates. All of that was just very enjoyable.”
The visit to his future home sured things up. He had already take his other four official visits to Duke, North Carolina State, Penn State and Texas A&M.
“There’s nowhere else I need to go, nowhere else I need to be,” said Butler, who plans to fax over his signed National Letter of Intent on Feb. 1 at 7:30 a.m. Eastern. “I’m very solid in my commitment. There’s nothing more I really need to see. Whatever little questions I had, which wouldn’t have really been dealbreakers or anything, I got answered. So I’m perfectly good and just looking forward to being coached and getting my education and playing Tennessee football.
“Now I’m going to just sit back and know that if I made the ‘wrong decision’ then it’s probably something I did wrong like not practicing to my highest potential or not putting in the effort that I need to. I just know that the way I practice, I just bring it everyday and show effort and really, really working on my technical stuff and explosion, staying low and all that type of stuff, and I’ve always been a good student. So I just need to continue to not be distracted and whatnot. Even just being around campus, as much of these guys are just great, I really feel like there’s a difference between me and a few other guys and almost everybody else as far as how we carry ourselves.
“I just feel like this is going to be a great class. If I do what I have to do, I’m going to be put in advantageous situations and with given the situation, I’m not going to let anybody down. The guy that’s in front of me, he’s going to get tired before I do. I’m just going to keep working him and working him. Once I prove that I can do that — I know I can do it and I can show you I can do it — but once I prove I can do it, I’ll be set up for the rest of my football career. Then, once I do what I need to do in the classroom, I’ll be set up for life. That’s just what Tennessee is going to do for me and what I’m going to do for Tennessee.”
Tennessee tends to take its own height and weight of official visitors while they’re on campus as part of the evaluation process. The topic put the D-lineman in a bit of a somber mood.
“That was a situation, man, I tell you what,” Butler said. “We had literally just left lunch, and they were just, ‘Oh, hey, let’s hop on the scale.’ So I weighed in at 280. I probably weigh like 270.
http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1739784-watch-top... “We woke up, had breakfast, a snack, lunch, a lot of water weight added on because they wanted us to stay hydrated. That’s probably what happened.”
Tennessee freshman linebacker and former Scout four-star prospect Daniel Bituli was Butler’s player host.
“I was spending time with all kinds of people — the early enrollees, (Jonathan) Kongbo, Kahlil (McKenzie), all those guys,” said Butler, who was joined on the visit by his brother, father, mother and sister.
Butler’s classmates that enrolled earlier in January told him that the strength and conditioning work is the primary difference with college life thus far.
“The common change for all of them was coach Rock (Gullickson),” the nation’s No. 33-ranked defensive tackle said. “They say they like him. I like him, too. We have a good bit in common. I know with just his experience he’s going to make a lot of changes as far as our strength, injury prevention and conditioning. That’s what he was hired for, quite frankly.”
The visit included time at the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center. That trip included a conversation with the director of student-athlete academic support services Dr. Brian Russell.
“(Russell) works with quarterbacks and defensive linemen as far as academic counseling and everything,” said Butler, who’s leaning toward being a Political Science major but also has interest in Sports Psychology. “He talked about tutoring, how everything is set up, how once he trusts us, he’s not going to worry too much, how he’s going to be proactive rather than reactive.
“I talked to the early enrollees and how school is for them. They just said you just need to do it because it’s set up for you to get it done in advance of when it’s due. Once it’s done, you don’t really have to worry about it anymore, you can really move onto something that’s due much later on. You really have to put yourself in a position to fail and they put you in a position to succeed. But, you have to be the one to put action behind it.”
What number Butler wears for the Orange & White is still up in the air.
“I talked to coach Jones about it,” Butler said. “I’m not sure of the situation with (cornerback Justin) Martin, who wore No. 8 eight last year. I would like to wear No. 8. (Jones) said he’s going to get back with me as soon as he can about that.”
The Scout No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the Tar Heel State said he plans to enroll in classes in Knoxville the first week possible, however, he does not expect his graduation from Garner High to take place until early June.