Butler camp gives young players opportunity to learn from NFL star

Published 8:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2018

In the final moments of his annual youth football camp Saturday, Malcolm Butler lined up against Tyrese Wolfe in a one-on-one coverage drill.

Wolfe, a Vicksburg High football player, played defensive back as the NFL star Butler tried to catch the pass. Butler ran a short out route that Wolfe quickly reacted to and knocked away, earning bragging rights forever as he was mobbed by his teammates.

“I was really trying to catch it. I heard the defense. I didn’t feel it, I heard it. It’s weird catching the ball. I’m usually the one attacking. I can catch, though,” said Butler, a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans. “I wish I would have caught it, but I didn’t so I’m going to let him have that.”

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It was a competitive, but fun and lighthearted moment on a day full of them at Vicksburg High School. More than 400 children in grades 1-12 attended the fourth edition of the Malcolm Butler Football Camp, learning the game and life lessons from one of the NFL’s best at his position.

Butler was a two-time Super Bowl champion and an All-Pro in 2016 with the New England Patriots before signing as a free agent with Tennessee this offseason.

“It’s real cool, because he’s in the pros. He knows what he’s talking about. And then it’s fun just having competition with everybody,” said VHS player Joshua Pedyfoot.

The camp was split into two sections, with junior high and high school players on one end of the field and younger players on the other. Butler wandered from drill to drill, starting early with the Malcolm & Me Camp for children in grades 1-6 and then shifting his focus to the older group.

“It’s kind of like an older brother helping us out, getting the kids out here to stay out of trouble. It’s a pretty good way to spend a Saturday,” Pedyfoot said.

Besides giving football pointers, Butler said he tried to give life advice as well. He’s keenly aware of his status as a hometown hero, and said he both enjoys giving back to the community and makes a conscious effort to set a good example and represent Vicksburg well.

“It was a great time. I love to come home, give back, and being part of the community. It’s who I am and who I’ll always be,” Butler said. “When I’m out here doing the football camp, I’m not thinking about one of these kids making it to the NFL. I’m thinking about one of these kids wanting to better themselves and not get caught up in the nonsense.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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