February 25, 2009

Butler maturing mentally, physically

Brice Butler is primed for a big year. He knows there's playing time to be had with Patrick Turner gone.

But instead of prepping for the 2009 season in Los Angeles, Butler was almost somewhere else.

"I thought about leaving," Butler said. "Coming out here, they had told me I wasn't going to redshirt. But with me getting hurt, they told me I was going to. I was shocked at first.

"But when I think about it, I needed it."

In addition to getting healthier over the season, Butler said the redshirt season humbled him.

"It was tough in the beginning. The first two months, I was mad at everybody. I didn't go out. I didn't talk to anybody. I was pissed. I was really upset," he said. "But I got hurt for reason. I was a little too bigheaded when I came in. Being redshirted was key. With all the guys we had last year, I wouldn't have played.

"I wasn't physically or mentally prepared."

And now that he's entering the 2009 season, that's exactly what Butler is focused on.

"I'm just trying to get healthy finally. I was dealing with some injuries for most of last season," Butler said. "First I hurt my foot, and then it was my thigh - all on my left side. I sprained my ankle and sprained my foot. It's getting better now. I'm at about 90 percent.

"I'm trying to get right. The offseason is going good. I'm just trying to work hard with the guys and earn a spot."

Butler said Turner's absence has opened a door for him, but he's not letting the prospect of serious playing time consume him.

"I'm not focused on that by itself," he said. "I just want to get better at what I do, learning the plays. I want the coaches to know they can put me in the games."

In addition to growing in knowledge of the Trojan system, Butler conceded his body could use a few extra pounds, too.

He said he's five pounds heavier now than when he came to USC last summer.

"I'm a stronger 195. Coach Carlisle has really emphasized core and explosion with me. I want to get over 200 pounds," Butler said. "It just depends on how strong my body is and how much weight I can take. I never have been the biggest guy. I've always been tall and lanky.

"I'm just trying to get as strong as possible. If my body doesn't get big right now, I'm 19. I'm cool with it. I think once I get older, it'll be fin. I just need to be patient about it."

If Butler gets on the field, one of three quarterbacks could be tossing him the balls - Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain or Matt Barkley. Butler said he's spent extra time working with each of the quarterbacks.

"Matt has the strongest arm, but Corp and Mitch are older and will make better decisions because they know the offense," Butler said. "Corp, I know, can get out of the pocket and get the ball to us if he's in trouble. Mitch is older than all of us and experienced. I know he knows how to win. He won't get us in trouble.

"I don't have a guess at who is going to start. I'm not saying anything. I don't want to get myself in trouble."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!