Jul 28, 2019; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Butler (17) catches a pass during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Derek E. Hingle, USA TODAY Sports

Rookie wide receiver Emmanuel Butler impresses early in Saints training Camp

Kristian Garic
July 28, 2019 - 2:27 pm
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In the first few days of Saints training camp I find myself writing the number 17 down a lot. Emmanuel Butler is the rookie who wears that Black & Gold jersey. The young wide receiver does something noticeable and positive nearly every day.  Butler’s not flashy; he’s quiet and humble.  All characteristics the coaching staff covets.  He’s loud on the field, but only with his playmaking. 

In my 11 years of covering Saints football, one fact remains constant; there’s always one rookie who’s a standout, different from the rest.  Butler’s that guy. He’s now living up to Sean Payton mini-camp comment, “He’s someone we’ve noticed.”  That’s as close to an endorsement a first year pro can get from the Saints head coach.

Another big plus, Butler doesn’t seem overwhelmed with the NFL talent and competition, nor the notoriety.  “It’s been a great experience.  I’m having a lot of fun. I’m trying to come out here and learn every day,” Butler said of his training camp experience.  Emmanuel Butler didn’t just turn it on in training camp, he’s made an impression in OTA’s, mini-camp, and now training camp.

In high school Emmanuel Butler played tight end; he wasn’t highly recruited.  Northern Arizona was the only school that believed he was fast enough to play receiver.  Most schools thought Butler was too slow to play that position and not big enough to play tight end.   His story is just concrete proof the NFL will find you wherever you are if you’re talented.

Ignoring praise and tuning out hype is nearly impossible these days with social media.  Butler is trying to stay focused on the task at hand, but notices his popularity is on the rise, “It’s pretty cool to come out after practice and see your phone blow up a little bit.  But when I’m on the field I try not to focus on that.  I simply focus on just trying to make plays,” he said. So far so good for the rookie. 

Ultimately finding good football players is goal number one for the Saints.  However, it doesn’t hurt if that gem you discover can not only step up to NFL level of play, but scores equally high as a good human being.  In my interaction with Butler he checks those character blocks for a team that stresses good character.  He’s sharp between the ears, humble and polite.  

During press conferences with these players I always try and pay attention to how they handle the pressure of the media.  This rookie was unfazed. Butler admits, however, the only time he felt a little pressure was the first time he met QB Drew Brees, “I didn’t know what to expect.  I’m kind of big eyed.  After getting to know him and talking to him, he’s very down to earth. He’s a great guy, great person.  He’s very smart.  Every time I’m around him I try to soak up as much information as I can,” admitted the rookie wide out.

Clearly Emmanuel Butler was overlooked in high school and in college.  He says he’s used to it. “I feel like my entire life I’ve had a chip on my shoulder where I’ve been overlooked.  I don’t sit around and be sad about it.  I kind of actually enjoy it (being overlooked).”

I hate to break it to you, Emmanuel, but if you keep stacking up strong training camp days, being overlooked won’t be something you’ll enjoy for long.

It’s early, but Emmanuel Butler is clearly a player to watch.

Programming note: Listen for a special Training Camp edition of SportsTalk this afternoon with Saints color analyst & all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister with Seth Dunlap from 3 to 6pm...on the flagship station of your New Orleans Saints - WWL, the Big 870AM, 105.FM, WWL.com and anytime on the RADIO.COM app.

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