6’4″ 295 pounds; Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Whether or not Matthew Butler played in the middle or at one of the end spots, as his versatility showed he could do over the past few years, remained up in the air until the depth chart was released. However, now that we know Tim Banks will use four down linemen and play Butler in the middle, he has just become one of the most important players on the team.
Coming out of Garner Senior High School in North Carolina’s Wake County, Butler has been a staple of Tennessee football’s defensive line for years. This year, though, he’s the primary defensive tackle, which was not something anybody likely expected early in his career.
Aubrey Solomon and Kurott Garland seemed like the anchors in the middle coming back, but Butler and Elijah Simmons took their spots this year. Simmons is more of a nose tackle who will command attention in the middle, the same he would have in a 3-4 defense. Butler, on the other hand, is expected to command potential and make plays.
Over each of the past two years, Butler has had at least three tackles for a loss, two sacks, over 40 tackles total and over 20 tackles solo. He forced a fumble and had a pass deflection last year and had two pass deflections the year before. The guy is a playmaker, and he’s now set to prove it.