How about a cool story for once? The news is a day old but it's worth noting. Northern Illinois linebacker Devon Butler, a man who was senselessly shot by a couple of pissed off drug dealers last year and whose life was hanging in the balance, has seemingly made a full recovery all the way to the point that he's going to play football again. Doctors said he could, so now it's up to him to earn his way back into a starting job.
Before the tragic shooting, Butler was coming off a 2010 season where he was third team All-MAC and made a large impact en route their first of two MAC West titles.
Coach Dave Doeren, via Huskiewire:
He had his final doctor’s meeting last week to say whether or not he was cleared for contact, and they gave him a clean bill of health. He went through all of the winter conditioning. He’s in as good a shape as he’s been in since the incident
Coolest news you can hope for. When I didn't hear much about Butler's status, I had this sinking feeling that he was going to not only survive and live a normal life, but I didn't know if he could play football anymore. Again ... this was all speculation on my part without hearing much else.
That NIU defense had some weak points, and if Butler can return to his 2010 form and improve on it, he'll certainly have much more to contribute. He spent last year as his medical redshirt and now has two more years of eligibility, should he choose to use them.
Meanwhile, the men who shot him — Richard Van Arsdale and Mark Orozco — are suffering the legal consequences. Van Arsdale pleaded down to burglary charges, and he'll serve nine years for being the driver. Orozco was the trigger man and he continues to face attempted murder charges.
It's been a whirlwind week of sports-related heartbreak and free-flowing rumors in our quaint conference, as well as one of Butler's current linebacking teammates getting in all sorts of legal tangles. So hearing about Butler's return is a swell palate cleanser and I think even his opponents will be glad to see him back on the field, hoping he doesn't tackle them in open space.