A lot of the New England Patriots undrafted free agent attention has gone to the likes of LB Harvey Langi, WR Austin Carr, and TE Jacob Hollister- and for good reasons. They have the best chances to make the team and they received a lot of guaranteed money to sign with the Patriots.
One signing that is flying under the radar that should get Patriots fans excited is Vanderbilt DL Adam Butler, who has one of the most intriguing resumes on the roster.
The 6’4, 295 pound Butler was a 36-game starter for the Commodores, racking up 27.5 career tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He played defensive end, defensive tackle, and nose tackle, showing up with high effort at every position on the defensive line. With the Patriots possibly needing a pass rushing defensive tackle, Butler could fill an opening.
What makes Butler more intriguing was that he was recruited to Vanderbilt as an offensive lineman and played center and guard and worked in that role for his redshirt freshman season. It was a fortuitous rib-eating contest that moved Butler to the defensive side of the ball and unlocked his potential.
Butler’s story starts 3:29 into the video.
“That was the spring of 2013,” Butler explains. “When we went to a bowl game that first year, I don’t want to say there was an altercation, but there was a rib-eating contest and [then-defensive coordinator Coach Bob] Shoop was watching and for some reason the judge voted that we lost the rib-eating contest, and I stood up and argued with the judge and said that that was false. Because the other team had ribs on their plate and they were counting the bones, but they had ribs on their plate that didn’t have a bone in it, which means they just took the bone out of the rib and just threw it in the tub. And I said ‘Uh-uh, no, you’re not about to count those ribs,’ and I fought against it.
“Coach Shoop loved that, and he wanted to add that kind of attitude to his defense- or at least that’s what he told me- and he recruited me, Coach Franklin brought me into his office and he asked me what I wanted and I said I wanted whatever was best for the team because we were sort of short on defensive linemen in that time period. So that’s how that happened.”
So Butler moved to the defensive line because he got heated after a rib-eating contest and the defensive coordinator liked his attitude and energy. If that’s not enough to make Vince Wilfork his spirit animal, I don’t know what else Butler can do.
Butler led the Vanderbilt defense in sacks in 2016, which isn’t an easy feat for a defensive lineman, and could be a great flex-defender as a possible Chris Jones-type defensive tackle that helps out on passing downs. Keep an eye out for Butler this summer.