The 2015 NFL Draft is just around the corner, but it’s never too early for FakePigskin to take a glimpse into the future, and the players eligible for next year’s process. Everybody knows the big names, but guys like Brent Grimes, Junior Galette, and, more recently, Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler have all emerged from Division II of the NCAA to make impacts at the NFL level. The 2016 Draft is certain to feature its own group of talented players who aren’t household names simply because they don’t get to play on television every week. That doesn’t diminish their talent, though.
Linebacker Larry Butler III is one of the Division II players looking to have a big 2015 season to attract the attention of scouts so he can join the ranks of non-Division I players in the NFL. At 6’1 and 245 lbs, Butler has the size to play at any level, and he nearly wound up playing at Tennessee, so he certainly has high level talent. FakePigskin’s Vance Meek had a chance to talk to Butler and get his takes on his life in football up to this point, and what could be ahead.
Vance Meek: I’ll start with a congratulations. You recently received an All-American honor. How was that?
Larry Butler: It was a great feeling! I received All-American honors in the past, but this one was special because of the down season my team had. To have my play recognized despite my team’s record say a lot.
VM: Is it harder to enjoy personal success when the team has such a down year?
LB: It is to a certain extent, but I’m trying to stay positive.
VM: For readers unfamiliar with your story, how did you wind up playing for Southern Nazarene University?
LB: My Division I clock was expiring, so I wanted to go the D2 route to give me a better shot at going to the NFL. I was originally going to be a Tennessee Volunteer in 2012.
VM: Being from a small, non-Division I school can make it difficult to be noticed by NFL scouts. How do you combat that?
LB: For most it might be an issue, but I’m a rare case. I was the number one rated junior college linebacker in my class, and had several SEC offers. My buzz from my game film is growing. I think I’ll be fine.
VM: What would you consider the strongest part of your game?
LB: My functional strength, my intensity and passion, as well as my hitting ability.
VM: What did you work on in this past offseason to improve your play?
LB: My footwork and man to man coverage skills. I don’t consider them weaknesses, just areas I can improve.
VM: Who would you say you model your game after?
LB: Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati Bengals), though I think I’m faster.
VM: Do you have a scheme preference? Can you play in any scheme?
LB: I can play in any scheme, and my film can back that up. I prefer the 4-3 though.
VM: Where did your love of football come from?
LB: My love of the game came from my grandfather. I can remember, at a young age, having him teach me and my brother how to play.
VM: What NFL team were you a fan of growing up?
LB: I was an Oakland Raiders fan, as I spent part of my childhood in the Bay Area.
VM: What current NFL player would you love to tackle/hit? Why?
LB: Johnny Manziel. I just think he’s a great player. He and Adrian Peterson guys I admire as players.
VM: What is your favorite football moment?
LB: When I received my first SEC offer, in 2012, from the University of Kentucky, and my two All-American awards.
VM: If you had to pick a sport to play professionally besides football, what would it be?
LB: Basketball. I’m a huge Kobe Bryant fan.
VM: What are your goals for 2015?
LB: Another All-American award, and a playoff berth.
FakePigskin.com would like to thank Mr Butler for his time and honesty, and wish him good luck in 2015 and beyond, and looks forward to following up with him as he progresses in his career.