COVINGTON, Ga. — If you’ve watched Dre Butler play football and basketball this year, you’d probably assume that the he would have a tough decision to make.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior is every bit as graceful and light on his feet on the basketball court as he is aggressive and Ferocious in a three-point stance on the gridiron. And he had the scholarship offers from both sports to prove it.
But when it came down to it, Butler says the choice wasn’t difficult at all. He picked football, namely, Chattanooga-Tennessee. And for the power forward-slash-defensive end, it all came down to him analyzing his own upside.
“At first when I started, it was a tough decision,” Butler said. “But as my recruitment started picking up, things went more toward football. I love basketball and I love football. I don’t have a favorite sport. But with football, I know I have the chance to extend my career the furthest.”
Understandable. But why UTC?
“I’ve been on their radar for a long time,” he said. “They were my third offer, but ever since they offered, they’ve been contacting me, calling me every day. Texting me and seeing how I’m doing. Maybe three or four times a week. They’ve just been proving that they’re on my side.”
Butler chose the Mocs over offers from Tennessee State and East Tennessee State, as well as basketball offers from Presbyterian and Augusta University. A power for
ward on the third-ranked Newton basketball team, Butler missed Saturday’s game against Morgan County because he was on an official visit in Chattanooga, shoring up his football future.
“It was tough to be away from my teammates,” Butler said. “Very tough. I had people calling me and showing me the game and how they pulled through. I’m proud of my boys.”
And if the Twitter-expressed sentiments of coming from Newton's official team Twitter page and are any indication, Rams boys basketball coach Rick Rasmussen and the rest of the team is proud of him as well.
“Congrats to Dre Butler on his verbal commitment," the tweet said. "Found a home at UTC. Had Bball offers from DI Presbyterian and Augusta and several other (football) offers. Proud of this young man. Bright future.”
Butler’s commitment is particularly satisfying, given where he and his athletic career were around this time last year. Butler was nursing a knee injury that sidelined him from both sports he loved. In previous interviews, he discussed the difficulty of trying to navigate through not being able to showcase his talents on the field or the court.
Of course, in his absence from both sports, there was an absence of recruiting attention. But a fully healthy senior season caused his stock to rise quickly.
Butler led Newton’s defense — one with 3-star prospect and Clemson signee Darnell Jefferies — with 20 tackles for losses from his defensive end spot in 2017. He also led the team with eight quarterback sacks and over 50 total stops.
He’ll play outside linebacker at UTC, a position Butler says isn’t much different from what he’s used to.
“It’s really not a position change,” Butler said. “Defensive end is sort of like an outside backer if you’re not playing a three-technique.”
Butler certainly isn’t playing with his future with his decision to pursue football in college instead of hoops.
“This is how I felt,” he said. “I’m a good basketball player. I can score the rock. But on the football field, with my height and size, I feel like I can be unstoppable, really. I feel I can do anything. I mean at 6-foot-5, playing power forward, I mean that’s good for high school, but probably not so much for college. I’d probably play basketball for four years in college and be done and never play beyond that. But with football, I can work my way into going to the league. I’m not just planning to go play football for four years in college and be done.”
Butler said he plans to major in sports medicine at UTC, and he’s excited to go. He called Chattanooga “a beautiful city with so many things to do,” and he fell in love with the campus on his visit.
But first thing’s first. A matter of helping his highly ranked Newton basketball make another deep run in the state tournament.
“Now I can focus on basketball and us going to win a championship,” Butler said.
Rams lineman Jordan Reed chooses Davidson
Butler wasn’t the only Newton football standout to secure his college destination. Offensive lineman Jordan Reed also took advantage of his weekend official visit and pledged his services to Davidson College just outside of Charlotte, NC.
Reed, who plans to major in physics and says that becoming an architectural engineer would “be a dream job for me,” said his affinity for Davidson begins in the classroom.
“It started off for me when I read about Davidson’s academics,” Reed said. “When I saw how good of a program they had and how good of a school they are, it impressed me. And then I got on campus and met my future teammates and coaches, and the new coaching staff they have.
“They’re all really cool guys. The people on campus are the nicest I’ve ever met. The whole time I was there, complete strangers are coming up to you and having nothing but positive things to say about the school.”
Reed, a student with a 3.8 grade point average at Newton, chose Davidson over Tuskegee, Jacksonville University, Lenoir Rhine and Grambling State. He spent time on both the Rams’ offensive and defensive lines, collecting 13 total tackles and three for losses with a quarterback sack through seven games last season.
He says that there will certainly be time to continue improving himself as a football player. But his current focus is finishing the wrestling season and strengthening his academic resume.
“I’m definitely going to try and focus on improving my grades,” he said. “I finished midyear with pretty good grades, but I want to get some of those borderline ‘As’ a little higher.”