Strong-Butler more than a name
Defensive end Victor Butler made the transition from wide receiver and safety to a big time Pac-10 play maker on the line
Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
The name on the back of his uniform reads Strong-Butler, "Strong" showing respect to the surname of his current stepfather.Strong-Butler however, may easily be mistaken for the physical build of one of the conference's most athletic defensive linemen.
A high school wide receiver and safety later turned college defensive end, Victor Butler came to Oregon State recruited solely for his 'athleticism,' known for making big time plays on either side of the ball.
A student of the game with a work ethic that most coaches could only dream of, Butler was chosen by his teammates as the 2007 Most Improved Player, which also lead to his 2008 nomination for Team Captain.
"On the field he is an animated character, and one of those guys you have to have on the team. He's that guy," junior linebacker Bryant Cornell said. "Everyone looks to him as a leader and that's why we picked him as a team captain. As intense as you have to be on the field you also have to have some light-hearted guys off the field, and he is also that guy."
A three-year letter winner at Oregon State University, the senior from Rialto, Calif., entered the season with one career start, although his stats reflect that of an every-down player.
In 2007, the 6-foot-2-inch 245-pound lineman earned nationwide awareness with his ability to bully opposing quarterbacks. Recording 10.5 sacks his junior year - the third most in the Pacific-10 conference - and a combined 12.5 tackles for losses totaling 124 yards - also the third best in the nation - the one-time offensive prodigy had proven his defensive capabilities.
One of 34 pre-season candidates for the 2008 Ted Hendricks Award honoring the nation's top defensive end, Butler is well aware of his potential this year, and the direct correlation it has for his goals to eventually play on Sundays.
"He's motivated and one of those guys that has potential to go to the next level," Cornell said. "He wants it for himself and we want it for him."
Butler's natural abilities have played a huge role in his football success; however, they can only take him so far. Well aware of this notion and his desire to be the best at everything, Butler refuses to believe his body encompasses any sort of restrictions, pushing it to the limits daily in the weight room and Saturdays on the gridiron.
"In the weight room, I went from lifting receiver weight, benching 185 to having to step my game up," Butler said. "I came in here at 205 and today I am 242."
"I'm 8 percent body fat and have worked very hard to stay away from McDonald's, Taco Bell and any other late night food," Butler joked as he continued on about his constant cravings for Taco Bell.
In what is still a young season, Butler has continued to prove his worth, starting in each of the first four games. The senior captain is currently third on the team with 17 total tackles and half a sack. Continuing to be a nuisance behind the line of scrimmage, Butler is responsible for three tackles for a total of six yards loss.
Looking to repeat the success of last year's breakthrough season, Victor commented on the issue that he must remain fast.
"Last year I played reckless and real fast," Butler said. "I went out there, I wanted to make plays and I made them."
Butler's teammates agree.
"He's fast... real fast... and he knows how to use it," Cornell said. "You got guys weighing 295 at defensive end unable to make half the plays he does. He has put multiple superior tackles [offensive linemen] to shame on the field."
With a new role as an every-down player, Victor has approached the 2008 season differently than those in the past. He had to take time to learn his new responsibility, which led to him playing patiently and safe in the first two games as he tried to secure a position and work on execution.
It didn't take long for Butler to return to his aggressive and sometimes reckless ways, crediting both the Beavers wins to the entire Oregon State football team and their ability to finally go out there and let go.
For most of these men the game is second nature. You can practice as hard as you want all week, but come Saturday instincts take over, and that's when most players perform at their best.
Wishing he could wear a suit versus the team-issued warm-ups, game day for Butler consists of minor preparations. As long as the Pac-10 standout gets his morning oatmeal with brown sugar, the Beaver fans should get what they came to see. Hardly seen without his iPod hours prior to kick-off, Butler reflects on his personal responsibilities for the Beavers to be successful on that specific afternoon.
The quarterback's nightmare can be seen pre-game on the field electrifying his defensive unit. Standing in the middle of a huddle, Butler yells chants at the top of his lungs, a spark plug to the hard-hitting Beavers defense.
"I get with my teammates and give them words of encouragement, say a quick prayer and make sure everyone is ready to go," Butler said. "At this level its not an option to be scared.