football Edit

Dontavius Butler - a future two-way player?

Could Pitt wide receiver commit Dontavius Butler, a three-star out of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage, be a two-way player in college? That and more details from his official visit to Pitt.

Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage wide receiver Dontavius Butler has been a long-time Pitt commit, with his pledge dating back to the end of July 2016. Butler committed to the Panthers sight-unseen at the end of the summer and was unable to see his future university throughout the fall. A hurricane got in the way of his initial visit plans and things were never able to come together after that. Now, nearly six months since committing, Butler was finally able to see Pittsburgh on an official visit.

“It was amazing. It actually exceeded my expectations of the school. I had seen pictures of the school, but to actually see it in person – the facilities, the school, the Cathedral – it was great,” Butler said.

There had been discussion that Butler could potentially take visits elsewhere during or following his senior season, as schools like North Carolina State and Minnesota had pursued the Pitt commit and tried to set up an official visit. After finally seeing campus, Butler has firmly shut down any talk of that.

“I’m all locked in. A lot of coaching staffs had hit me up, but they stopped that after the official visit. I was still thinking about taking one or two more visits, but after how me and my family felt after the Pitt visit, I just felt solid in sticking with [Pitt],” Butler explained. “My whole family came up – my mom, my grandma, my dad, and my dad’s girlfriend.”

It was an excellent experience for Butler’s family as well, and the experience that those closest to him could share with him made it even easier to know that Pitt would be it for the long haul.

“My mom – the look on her face and the vibe she had the whole trip, she loved it there. My grandma had everyone on the staff there laughing and stuff. She’s just that type of person, it’s never a dull moment with her,” Butler laughed. “She loves it up there. She saw Big Ben in practice and she couldn’t believe it was really him, so it was kind of like a dream for her. My dad and his girlfriend really loved it too.”

Butler shared his experience with seven other Pitt commits for his official visit on January 13th and the opportunity to click with his future teammates was something he appreciated. Enrollment in June is still months away, but establishing a bond with his fellow freshmen-to-be after never meeting them in person was critical.

“It was cool to be around the commits from the class. You only get to see them on the internet, so it was pretty cool to see them in person,” Butler said. “We definitely gelled like we already knew each other well. I can see us having a perfect class on both sides of the ball.”

In addition to his discussions with family and future teammates, Butler had sit-down meetings with his future head coach and position coach, Pat Narduzzi and Kevin Sherman. Interestingly enough, the coaches discussed not only a pathway to early playing time for Butler, but a chance to potentially play on both sides of the football.

“I sat down and spoke with coach Sherman and what position I’ll be playing and stuff. I’m honestly expecting to play in my first year. I feel like I have that college size and soon I’ll have the college mind. I know I’m still in high school, but I feel like I can adjust really fast to the system. Coach Narduzzi actually wants me to play a little safety because I have perfect size for that too. I’m up for the challenge and hoping I can play both sides,” Butler said. “I played safety my freshman and sophomore year of high school, but I haven’t since I came to Heritage. It’s like why play there with how many Division I guys we have at that position? It just wasn’t needed.”

While on his official visit, Butler was working to set things up for another player that he’s hoping to bring in the fold. His close friend and former teammate Kyshaun Bryan, who has since transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.), has allegedly been dropped by South Carolina in the final weeks leading up to National Signing Day. Knowing that, Bryan has worked to bring him in the fold at Pitt and find the standout running back a new home in western Pennsylvania.

“It’s been pretty easy recruiting him actually, because [Bryan] knows our history together and how we are when we’re teammates. To have that opportunity for him at Pitt is great. The way South Carolina did him is terrible. If I could help in any way – it wasn’t even like it would help – it’s like that’s my brother and I want to see him in the best position,” Butler said. “It’s been easy recruiting him. I see him joining us, I really do. I know he still wants to give Iowa a shot, but I really feel like he’ll join our class and fit perfectly.”

It should be an exciting few months for Butler and his family as he works to add Bryan to the Pitt class, sign his letter of intent, and prepare to compete in his first season of college football. The south Florida wide receiver has flown under the radar for some Pitt fans, but his future is bright.

Dontavius Butler on his official visit to Pitt
Dontavius Butler on his official visit to Pitt (Matt Hawley)