Butler sets realistic goals for return

Despite media portrayal of situation, Butler says coach Lane Kiffin was very receptive to his rejoining Trojans.

The impasse between wide receiver Brice Butler and head coach Lane Kiffin was portrayed by some as USC's version of the Cuban Missile Crisis, neither side willing to make the first move.

It turns out Butler's return to the team was pretty mundane. No begging by Kiffin to replenish the low numbers at the position, no begging by the redshirt junior to come back.

Finishing out the spring semester gave Butler, who has 29 career receptions for 404 yards and three touchdowns, time to think out his decision after announcing his intention to transfer in January, Delaware and Tennessee-Chattanooga possible destinations.

"My mind was gone," he said. "I was ready to leave and I was going to leave. And then, I guess for the simple fact I was here all semester, it gave me time to think and go over things. I was able to make the choice to come back because I was here. Staying here was good."

Butler said it was his decision alone, electing not to talk to anyone that left the Trojans last year because of the ‘free agency' provision of NCAA sanctions, nor fellow receiver Carswell, who nearly transferred to Cincinnati.

When the time came to meet with Kiffin, he was receptive to Butler's return, provided it was for the right reason.

"Just thinking about it, it was the best decision for me to stay here," Butler said. "I mean, he just told me like ‘I don't want you to come back for me. I want you to come back for yourself.'

"He told me the truth and I appreciate him for that and I just moved on from there."

That truth includes the likelihood that Butler faces long odds to see significant playing time this season. Robert Woods enters his sophomore season already established as one of the top playmakers in the conference.

Woods' Pac-10 Freshman of the Year campaign came at the expense of Butler, who was expected to move into the starting lineup, prompting his father, former NFL wideout Bobby Butler, to tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his son did not get a fair shake.

"You take a kid who is a starter, then the next thing you know you put a kid who has only been [in college practicing] for 10 days and start him in front of [Brice]," Bobby Butler said.

With Woods firmly entrenched, reliable veteran Carswell and talented newcomers Kyle Prater and George Farmer vying for the other spot, Butler carries modest goals into this season.

"Just to do everything that I'm supposed to do," Butler said. "Just try to be a silent leader, work hard and show everybody that I'm here. My heart isn't anywhere else, my mind isn't anywhere else. I want to get my respect back. That's it."

Butler is also looking forward to working with new wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore.

"I like him," Butler said of Gilmore. "I've seen the way he coaches practice. I like him just having those couple conversations I've had with him. Just seems like a really solid dude."

All in all, Butler is enjoying his return. His skills look sharp, his fitness intact after taking the workout regiment from Heritage Hall to Galen Center. Even his knowledge of the playbook is still there.

Said Butler: "Hopefully I can do what I can for the team, and that's making plays on Saturday."


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