Through the first few days of fall camp, and even in the weeks leading up to it, one of the biggest questions surrounding the Syracuse offense is who will rise up the depth chart to become the top outside receiver opposite Steve Ishmael. There’s certainly no shortage of candidates, from Jamal Custis, to Alvin Cornelius, to Amba Etta-Tawo, to Kenterius Womack. But one name to keep an eye on: Devin Butler.
The true freshman from Maryland is making people sit up and pay attention so far in fall camp, by all accounts. Officially measuring in at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he’s already physically ready to compete. The high school sprinter, who plans on running for the Syracuse track team as well, could wind up being the steal of the 2016 recruiting class for the Orange. And he could also wind up working his way onto the 2-deep sooner than later.
Butler has great speed, there’s never been any question about that. Pretty much the only question mark surrounding his development at wide receiver, and what some folks felt might hold him back for a redshirt year, was transitioning to wideout full time. After all, he was primarily a defensive back and QB in high school.
But based on early returns, the switch to receiver has been even smoother than could be expected. Based on some of the highlights released by the SU early on, it’s hard not to start getting excited about his potential. Check out this footage that Dino Babers tweeted out, and keep an eye on the guy wearing the 81 jersey.
— Dino Babers (@CoachBabersCuse) August 8, 2016
If you’re short on time and want just one reason to start getting excited about Butler’s potential at wide receiver, jump to about the 40 second mark. Covered by Cordell Hudson, Butler shows a ton of ability in just a couple seconds. Concentration, hands, and balance are all on display as he wins a ball in tight coverage, maintains control even as the ball comes within inches of the ground, and just about manages to turn the ball upfield for what, in a game situation, would be a huge gain.
Now, I say “just about” because it appears the ball of his foot touches the sideline after completing the catch and turning upfield, but frankly it’s too close to tell. Let’s simply call it a good catch and an effort to be extremely excited about. It’s not enough evidence to overturn what I’m going to just go ahead and chalk up as a touchdown effort.
Butler’s already got an impressive resume from his high school days, racking up more than 5,500 yards of total offense and 74 total touchdowns. He was one of the latest additions to the Syracuse recruiting class of 2016, but the way he’s played so far in camp, he could be one of the first to work his way onto the field for the Orange.