Breaking school records wasn't high on Deon Butler's list of goals when he came to Penn State as a walk-on defensive back in 2004. Making the squad was. Trying to have an impact and get the Nittany Lions back on the winning track was. The coaching staff saw something in the foreign squad member during the challenging fall of '04. The following spring, Butler was asked to move to wide receiver, where he burst onto the college football landscape as a highly productive and reliable receiver, making a school freshman record nine touchdown catches. Butler was among the influx of highly skilled playmakers that helped lift Penn State to the 2005 Big Ten and FedEx Orange Bowl titles and a 29-9 record the past three years. Entering his senior season, Butler has emerged as one of the top receivers in Penn State history. Having made at least one reception in 36 of 38 career games, he is perched in the Top 5 on the school career receptions, receiving yardage and touchdown charts. The athletic and sure-handed Butler has made 132 career receptions, rising to No. 2 on the school career list, trailing only All-American Bobby Engram's 167 grabs. Butler's 1,961 career receiving yards are good for No. 5 on the school list, needing just 39 yards to pass All-American O.J. McDuffie and become only the fourth Nittany Lion with 2,000 career yards. Bryant Johnson (2,008) and All-American Kenny Jackson (2,006) rank No. 2-3. Butler also has 15 career touchdown catches, tied with Terry Smith and Joe Jurevicius for fourth place. The school record-holder with 216 receiving yards against Northwestern (on 11 catches) in 2006, Butler is one of just three Nittany Lions to gain 200 receiving yards in a game. A three-year starter, the former Washington Post All-Met honoree from Hylton HS should be a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award and other post-season honors. The athletic, swift and sure-handed Butler is a vital component of arguably the most talented and productive group of receivers to ever don the blue and white. The intelligent and instinctive Butler has joined classmates Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams in becoming the first trio of Nittany Lions to each make 40 or more catches in a season, accomplishing the feat the past two years (twice in 121 years). Butler is a "field stretcher," noted for his attention to route running. He is a dependable target capable of making a big play with each reception, whether it be a streaking over the shoulder catch, a diving or leaping grab in the end zone or finding a seam across the middle. Humble, with an easy-going demeanor and wide smile, Butler earned his degree in crime, law and justice in May 2008. A contributor to the Emmy-Award winning Penn State Football Story, Butler is among six returning Nittany Lions from Virginia and among 10 returnees who played prep football in metropolitan Washington, D.C.
2007 Senior Season
Butler made at least one reception in every game to run his streak to 15 straight and 36 of 38 career games. Butler made 12 starts and continued his climb into the Top 5 on the school career receptions and receiving yardage charts. He made 47 receptions for a team-high 633 yards (13.5) and four touchdowns, including one score in each of the last three contests. His 47 receptions were tied for No. 10 on the school season list. Butler and classmates Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams duplicated their feat of becoming the first trio of Nittany Lions to each make 40 or more catches in a season, accomplishing the feat for the second consecutive year. Butler concluded the season with a big effort in the Valero Alamo Bowl win over Texas A&M, changing the momentum with a huge play. On a critical fourth-down play in the second quarter, he made a spectacular diving catch for a 30-yard TD from Anthony Morelli to get the Lions back within 14-7 and begin a run of 17 consecutive points. Butler hauled in four catches for 59 yards in the 24-17 win over the Aggies. Butler made three catches for 66 yards in the season-opening 59-0 victory against Florida International. He posted a team-high 72 yards on five catches, including a 45-yard strike from Morelli to set up a touchdown against Buffalo. Butler made four catches for 48 yards at Illinois to crack 100 receptions for his career. In the 38-7 win over No. 19 Wisconsin, Butler made a season-high seven catches for 93 yards. He scored on a 29-yard pass from Morelli that gave the Lions a 17-7 lead at the time. He made five catches for 43 yards, including a great 14-yard TD reception in the victory at Temple. Butler made three receptions for 68 yards at Michigan State, including a 37-yard scoring strike from Morelli, which was the Lions' longest TD pass of the season. He was on the field for 672 snaps, led by 71 at Indiana and 65 against Iowa.
2006 Junior Season
A starter in 12 games, Butler was the Nittany Lions' leading receiver for the second consecutive season. He made 48 receptions for 637 yards (13.3) and two touchdowns to earn honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition. His 48 catches were tied for sixth all-time in a season at Penn State. He joined classmates Jordan Norwood (45) and Derrick Williams (40) in becoming the first triumvirate in school history to each make 40 receptions in a season. He was third on the squad with 634 all-purpose yards. Butler and quarterback Anthony Morelli were in a zone when Northwestern visited for the Big Ten-opener and the wideout delivered one of the top individual performances in program history. On the first play of the game, Butler caught a 40-yard reception, the initial sign of bigger things to come. Hauling in a career-best 11 receptions, including gains of 40, 49, and 55 yards (a career-long), Butler rewrote the Penn State game receiving record with 216 yards. His performance broke O.J. McDuffie's mark of 212 yards (on 11 catches) set against Boston College in 1992 and he became just the third Lion to post 200-plus yards receiving in a game, joining McDuffie and Bobby Engram, who did it twice. Butler's 11 catches also tied McDuffie for second-most by a Nittany Lion in a game. He got in the groove with Morelli right away, making a 42-yard touchdown catch on Morelli's first pass in the opener with Akron. In the battle at No. 4 Notre Dame, Butler caught two balls for 14 yards, including a two-yard touchdown catch, moving him into a tie for sixth on the Penn State career charts with 11 receiving touchdowns. Butler made a team-high six receptions for 66 yards in the overtime win at Minnesota and posted a game-high five receptions for 65 yards against Illinois. He made five catches at Wisconsin and four in the Senior Day win over Michigan State. On the first play of the Outback Bowl victory over Tennessee, he made a 27-yard catch and later added a leaping 31-yard sideline grab to the Tennessee two to set up a Morelli TD pass to Andrew Quarless. Butler made three catches for 73 yards in the win over the No. 17 Volunteers. He was on the field for 638 snaps during the season, topped by 66 at Minnesota.
2005 Sophomore Season
It was a breakout season for Butler, who led Penn State with 37 receptions for 691 yards and nine touchdowns, tied for fourth-highest overall on the school season list. He broke four school freshman records, including season receptions (37), receiving yards in a game (125 vs. Wisconsin) and season (691) and TD catches (nine). His 18.7 yards per catch average was tops among players with 10 or more receptions and he posted 11 catches of 20 yards or longer (seven for TDs). For his efforts, he was named a third-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News and earned a spot on TSN's Freshman All-Big Ten team. Butler also was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten choice. His nine touchdown catches were the third-highest in the Big Ten and the most for a Nittany Lion since Joe Jurevicius had 10 in 1997. He had five catches of more than 40 yards (five for TDs). Butler moved into the starting lineup in the third game and started eight contests. His first collegiate reception was a 28-yarder against Cincinnati and he ended the day with two catches for 73 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. In his first start, against Central Michigan, he made five receptions for 108 yards and two scores to tie Kyle Brady's school freshman mark for TD receptions in a game. It also was the first 100-yard game by a Lion receiver since 2003. He made it three straight games with a TD when he hauled in a 26-yarder in the comeback win at Northwestern. He made a season-high six catches against Minnesota (83 yards) and had four receptions for 95 yards and a pair of scores in one half of play at Illinois. Butler made five grabs for a career-best 125 yards in the 35-14 win over Wisconsin, with TD catches of 43 and 47 yards from Michael Robinson, the third of his multiple-TD games on the year. His 125 yards against the Badgers broke the school freshman receiving yardage mark. Butler contributed four receptions for 46 yards and a TD in the Big Ten-clinching win at Michigan State. He was on the field for 550 plays, including a season-high 72 in the FedEx Orange Bowl win over Florida State.
2004 Freshman Season
Butler was a three-sport standout at Hylton HS in suburban Washington, D.C. A four-year football letterman for Coach Lou Sorrentino, he also lettered four years in basketball and as a senior sprinter on the track and field team. Establishing himself as one of Virginia's top receivers, he was an all-state pick as a senior, helping lead Hylton to the Virginia Class AAA state championship. Butler also was an all-met, all-district and all-area selection and team captain. Butler made 41 receptions for 1,029 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior. He also had 26 kick returns for 763 yards and two touchdowns. A two-way starter, Butler recorded 73 tackles and nine interceptions as a defensive back in 2003 and grabbed 16 career interceptions. He was selected to play in the 2004 VHSL All-Star game.
Full name is Vincent Deon Butler. He is the son of Valerie and Vernon Butler and has an older brother, Lee. Butler is a crime, law and justice major and is interested in a career in forensic science. He lists reading mystery novels as a hobby. Born January 4, 1986 in Fairfax, Va.