6’4″ 295 pounds; Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
One of the best things to happen to Tennessee football was Matthew Butler choosing to take advantage of the NCAA’s COVID eligibility ruling. As a versatile defensive lineman who played end in Jeremy Pruitt’s 3-4 scheme but could line up there or in the middle if Tim Banks goes to a 4-3, Butler likely would have been a highly touted pick last year.
Over the past two years, Butler has six tackles for a loss, four and a half sacks, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and 88 tackles, 45 of which were solo. He has appeared in every game the past two years and started every game last season.
The graduate of Garner Senior High School in North Carolina’s Wake County does have a solid defensive end backing him up in LaTrell Bumphus. Still, Butler is the anchor of the linemen who can play anywhere up front, and without him, the group will get very thin.
As a result, Butler is low on this list, but he still belongs here. We don’t know exactly how Banks will utilize his linemen up front since the particular scheme he decides to run remains up in the air, but it’s a safe bet that Butler will be critical to that success no matter what.