Former VHS star Butler making his way with Patriots
Published 10:40 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014
It was a homecoming night at Vicksburg High last Friday, but not for the school.
Instead, the current hometown hero — former Gator star and New England Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler — took advantage of his team’s bye week to return to the place where it all began.
Butler started his football career at Vicksburg before heading to Hinds Community College and, eventually, Division II West Alabama. Despite earning all-conference honors twice in college, his name wasn’t called in the 2014 NFL draft. That didn’t stop him from furiously working toward his goal of playing professional football, though, and he was rewarded with a free agent contract with New England.
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As soon as Butler swung open the front doors of VHS, the memories swirled around him in a whirlwind of nostalgia that plastered a smile on his face.
“As soon as I walked in the hallway,” Butler said of when it hit him. “Running around in the hallway, having fun with friends, hanging out, the games. It brings up a lot of good memories. It just feels so good to be home and I’m enjoying it while I can.”
Nowadays Butler has gone from looking up to the unsung heroes who climbed up NFL depth charts to being one.
“I was a guy looking up to somebody like that. Danny Woodhead, Jacoby Jones for the Baltimore Ravens, all those guys went to Division II schools,” Butler said. “Anything is possible. You’ve got to have somebody to look up to to do something. Pick your role model and look at what they do and you do it.”
After speaking with the VHS coaching staff and team, Butler addressed his former classmates at the school’s pep rally Friday afternoon before Vicksburg’s game with Neshoba Central. His message to the students was that success didn’t just magically happen. Butler has established himself on one of the NFL’s best teams through tons of hard work.
“It feels good to be back home visiting family, come back and see where I came from, how it all started. It’s a great feeling,” Butler said. “I tried to come back and show the young ones that I’m from here just like y’all and y’all can do the same thing. Anything is possible. The sky is the limit.”
The pep rally in Vicksburg’s hot, crowded gym was a completely different atmosphere from the one he was in six days prior, when he was battling the bitter cold and Denver Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders at Gillette Stadium. Butler played 36 of 80 snaps in that game while covering one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. He finished with four tackles and one pass breakup as the Patriots routed Sanders, Peyon Manning and the Broncos 43-21 to improve their record to 7-2. It was the best game of Butler’s young career.
Butler has been inactive for several games this season while he’s worked to earn a regular spot in the Patriots’ talented secondary. He’s played in six of the Patriots’ nine games and has eight tackles and four pass breakups. The Denver game was a chance for him to shine, and he felt like he took advantage of the opportunity.
“It wasn’t like my first game but I was excited. I cherished it, I embraced it, I was ready to play. I went out there and did what I had to do and just played football,” Butler said. “You never can be satisfied. I think I had a decent game last Sunday, but I always want to improve to get better.”
Sunday, 7:30 p.m., NBC
New England at Indianapolis