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LA Tech's Vernon Butler Getting Recognition

Louisiana Tech Defensive Tackle Vernon Butler was named to preseason watch list for both the Outland Trophy and the Rotary Lombardi awards. After a breakout junior season, Butler has become the leader of the Louisiana Tech defense.

Vernon Butler had a monster season in 2014.
Vernon Butler had a monster season in 2014.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

LA Tech recently started fall camp and they didn't get through the first week before they realized Vernon Butler changes the way you can practice.

"When you put Vernon Butler on the other side, I don't want to say it doesn't matter who you put next to him because it does but he makes a difference," Bulldogs Head Coach Skip Holtz said. "Vernon draws so much attention and if he doesn't, he is going to be in your backfield wreaking havoc. I thought the defense had a great day today but I thought it started with the defensive line and the number of guys that were in our backfield."

Butler had 43 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss in 2013 as he backed up future NFL defensive tackle Justin Ellis. The 6-3 309 pound Mississippi native was a can't miss star in the making. We even told you as much one year ago. Last season, Butler increased his output to 56 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss.

Holtz said everything starts up front with Butler for the Bulldogs on defense. "When you play defensive football," he added, "defense is about intensity and passion and when one guy has it, it feeds. Then he makes a play and it just keeps growing and getting bigger."

Offensive Line Coach Robert McFarland has been at schools all over the country, including recent stops at Central Florida, Iowa State; and he knows exactly what kind of talent Butler is.

"I have seen several first round draft picks over the years and the thing about him is just the size and the quickness that he has,"explained McFarland, "unbelievable quickness. His balance, with his feet and body, and his always able to stay in good power position. He just brings a load at you every time. Some guys can be big and just not have that power, he has that power in his body and he is able to do it at a good-sized weight where not many people are able to move that quick with that size. He is one of those special ones and it is fun to watch him play."

McFarland described trying to coach against Butler in practice. "It is a headache as a line coach to have to go against him," he admitted. "I tell my guys that every day they go out there, you know it's on. This is not an easy day because he does not take a play off. He approaches every play like his is going to win every snap. It is fun watching him and he is a great talent. Vernon Butler is a great talent and he has really worked hard this summer to become a bigger, stronger, faster player than he is. His skills and abilities are getting better, I guarantee you, every snap he takes. He never takes a play off so he really shows how to play every play, play with physicality every play and do all those things."

The Louisiana Tech offensive line is bringing back a lot of experience this season and going against Butler is only making them better. "I tell my kids they are actually very fortunate to line up every day against a talent like that," added McFarland. "For our guys, when you play against a great player like that - which you may go three or four ballgames and never see one close to that but you see one every day in practice - I think it is good. Really relish the moment that you are playing a great player like that. Because when you play against a great player like that, you will be able to handle it when you face guys at that level but if you bring that intensity and understanding of what it takes to try and win against a great player then it should be an advantage when you get into the season and maybe somebody's not quite that talented."