UWA’s Malcolm Butler aspires to greatness

Malcolm_Butler1LIVINGSTON — The 2012 Gulf South Conference Champions featured a veteran defensive backfield with players like Rico Jernighan, Otha Foster, Shontral Ford and Ridge Turner. In 2013, the defending GSC champs are led by the only starting defensive back left from a season ago.

Malcolm Butler has gone from a very talented fresh-face among a wealth of experience in 2012 to the leader in the 2013 secondary.

“This year we’re missing some game experience,” said West Alabama’s defensive back coach Coy Campbell. “Last year we had a lot of veterans with Malcolm as the newcomer, whereas this year it is swapped.

“Malcolm is definitely one of our leaders. He leads by example as well as verbally,” Campbell said. “It is easy to find someone who can do one or the other, but Malcolm does both.

“He is one of our elite corners. He has everything you want in a corner; the talent, the hits, the ball skills and the speed,” Campbell said. “He comes to work every day with a great attitude, which makes him a thrill to coach.”

The senior Vicksburg, Miss., native came to UWA in 2012 by way of Hinds Community College. Butler credits his decision to become a Tiger to another well-known name from the 2012 team.

“I was teammates with Matt Willis at Hinds,” said Butler. “I felt like good players choose good teams so I thought I’d follow in his footsteps.”

To say that Butler has already made a big impact in his short time at UWA would not be doing him justice. He has already received more honors in less than two seasons than most players dream of in four.

His performance last season alone earned him 2013 Pre-Season All-American First Team, 2012 First Team All-Gulf South Conference and GSC Player of the Week twice.

With this much success, Butler is not slowing down. Already this season he has caught the attention of the Senior Bowl being named to the 2014 Watch List. However, if Butler has his way, it will not stop there.

“This season I want to make it all the way to the Senior Bowl, become a two-time GSC cornerback and All-American and most of all I just want to be great,” Butler said.

“I just thank God for the opportunities I’ve had. This season I’ve continued to work hard and play hard,” Butler said. “It feels great to be a part of the Senior Bowl watch-list ahead of hundreds of Division I cornerbacks.”

With season numbers like 49 tackles, five interceptions and 29.8 yards per kickoff return last year, it might appear that Butler’s stats are not where they should be this season with. Already four games in Butler has recorded 14.5 tackles, a sign of adversity facing him this season.

“There are a lot of factors this season that are limiting his numbers on defense,” said Campbell. “Guys know who he is now and try to avoid him.

“It also has to do with who’ve we played up to this point, as well as the fact that our defensive front has done a better job of getting to the quarterback'” Campbell said. “It’s nothing he is doing wrong, it is just that opportunities haven’t presented themselves like last year.”

Though opportunities have not yet presented themselves, Butler is still optimistic toward the future.

“My numbers this season haven’t really frustrated me,” said Butler. “Last season my success came early, this season I think it will come later. I’m just going to continue to go hard on every play. I’m going to line up like I’m going against Calvin Johnston of the Detroit Lions.

“We’re all fast on defense. I’m glad I’m not an offensive player. From the linebackers to the defensive ends, from sideline to sideline there is always someone on this defense trying to beat me to the ball.”

Butler’s work will be cut out for him today as he leads his defense against the conference leader in passing offense. Delta State comes in averaging 382.8 passing yards per game with 11 touchdown passes.