The Mountain West is quickly learning that you don’t mess around with Jim.
Uptown got its hustlers, the Bowery got its bums. Virginia Street got big Jim Butler. He’s a tackle-breakin’ son of a gun.
“He’s a monster,” Wolf Pack senior running back Don Jackson said of his sophomore teammate. “Monster. That’s all you can say.”
Wolf Pack running back James Butler — Jim is certainly not tough enough for James Butler — lets his shoulder pads, helmet and powerful legs do his talking. He destroyed the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 30-20 Wolf Pack victory. Butler ran for 134 yards and delivered about 10,134 hits on the Rainbow Warriors.
“I can’t say how proud I am of James Butler,” Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian said. “All his yards were real tough yards.”
The Rainbow Warriors tried to tug on Superman’s No. 20 Wolf Pack jersey. They tried spitting into Butler’s wind and tried to pull the mask off the Pack sophomore. All they got was a couple more colors — black and blue — to add to their rainbow.
“I’m just a little guy trying to hide behind my linemen,” Butler smiled.
Butler is little like a stick of dynamite is little. He’s little like a bowling ball dropped off the top of the Empire State Building is little. In Hawaii the next tropical storm that hits their shores will be called “James Butler.”
“He was moving piles, creating yards after contact,” Polian said.
James Butler is so tough Mike Tyson would chip a tooth biting his ear. James Butler is so tough when he sits down to eat his Rice Krispies in the morning they don’t say “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” They whisper to each other and say, “Shhh. Be quiet. Here he comes.’”
Butler punished the Rainbow Warriors. There were times it looked like he slowed down just to pop another Hawaii player in the mouth. On one play, it seemed like the entire city of Honolulu was on his back blocking him from sight. All you could see was the pile of bodies moving forward. “One that one play I didn’t even know how that happened,” Butler said. “I just kept getting pushed around.”
Yeah, right. Nobody pushes James Butler around. James Butler is so tough when God said “Let there be light” Butler answered with “Say please.”
“I just try to get as low as I can and keep moving my legs,” Butler said, explaining his bruising running style.
He left out the part about him separating defenders from their mouth guards and jock and chin straps. He hit the Rainbow Warriors so hard he knocked a few of their seniors back into their sophomore years. James Butler is so tough he’s the reason why Waldo is hiding. When the Incredible Hulk gets mad he turns into James Butler. He’s Baby Earl Campbell. He’s the Pack’s modern day Marion Motley. He’s Beast Mode’s angrier, meaner brother.
On his first touchdown on Saturday he jumped over the pile of bodies near the goal line and landed on his head. The television replays showed that he might have landed just short of the goal line. The referees, though, were to scared to death to nullify the touchdown and they let the touchdown call stand. The only thing fear has to fear is James Butler. The dark is afraid of James Butler. Boomerangs are afraid to come back to him.
“We just kept trying to play smash-mouth football,” Butler said.
Polian is absolutely right when he said that all of Butler’s yards were tough yards. That’s because the Wolf Pack offensive line blocked absolutely nobody on Saturday. Former coach Chris Ault brainwashed his team a few years ago to constantly remind us that all they wanted to do was their one-eleventh on the field. Well, on Saturday it was one (Butler) against 11 (the Hawaii defense). And the one won. Again and again and again. It is more than enough to be Born to be One, especially if the one is No 20 in silver and blue.
Butler would take the ball on Saturday from quarterback Tyler Stewart, lower his shoulder and devastate the first Hawaii would-be tackler near the line of scrimmage. He would then spin move and hit the next unfortunate tackler with his back and then run him backwards into the ground for five more yards. Think Wizard of Oz when the house falls on the witch and the only thing left visible are her ruby red slippers. Butler not only broke tackles he made the Hawaii defense afraid to go near him the next time he ventured into their neighborhood.
James Butler, after all, never hides. He only seeks.
On Butler’s second touchdown Hawaii safety Julian Gener stood at about the 1-yard line as Butler approached. When Butler came near Gener simply, politely backed out of the way. Superman wears James Butler pajamas to bed. Law and Order is no longer a television show. It should be the trademarked names for Butler’s powerful left and right thighs. Bullet proof vests wear James Butler for protection.
Butler sat out his junior season in high school in 2012 because he transferred to another school. After his first game at his new school in 2013 he told reporters, “I was just excited to play. I needed that first hit.” He’s been hitting people ever since. Everyone, to be sure, calls Big Jim boss now.
Butler is the main reason why the Wolf Pack didn’t suffer an embarrassing loss to the feeble Rainbow Warriors on Saturday. Without Butler breaking tackles and breaking Hawaii’s will to live, the Pack would be a train wreck right now going into their bye week after losses to awful Wyoming and a bunch of guys named after a rainbow. James Butler, you can be sure, will never lose to a team whose name includes the word rainbow. Butler is so tough, don’t forget, that he can kill two stones with one bird. He can sneeze with his eyes open and when he goes swimming in the ocean, the sharks get into a steel cage for protection.
“We try to put the team on our back,” said Butler, also referring to Jackson.
The Pack is firmly on Butler’s back now. It is also safely tucked into his two strong arms while he blows up enemy tacklers. Butler, by the way, has just a wispy mustache and small beard under his chin right now because, well, hair doesn’t grow all that well on pure steel.
The young man is definitely moving the Mountain West with bare hands right now. Just two years ago he was running over tacklers for his suburban Chicago high school. In his first year at Nevada last year he ran for 635 yards and five touchdowns, along the way shredding San Diego State for 103 yards, UNLV for 116 and Hawaii for 94. This year he exploded up the middle for a 91-yard run at Buffalo. He now has 756 yards and four touchdowns this year and four 100-yard games (107 against Texas A&M, 177 against Buffalo, 145 against New Mexico and 134 against Hawaii). He’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 6.5 broken chin straps and mouth guards.
The only reason Butler isn’t running people over in the Big Ten or Big 12 right now is because he didn’t play his junior year in high school. Lazy college recruiters barely knew Butler existed his senior year because there was no game film of his junior year. And, yes, he was just 5-foot-9 and playing for a small school. The only recruiter apparently smart enough to know what was going on at St. Francis High in Wheaton, Ill., was Wolf Pack assistant Lester Erb. Erb started recruiting Butler when he was an Iowa assistant in 2011 when Butler was a sophomore at Bartlett (Ill.) High. One of the other schools that wanted Butler after his senior year was James Madison. If Butler had gone to James Madison the institution would be known as James Butler right now. Sorry, Mr. Fourth President of the United States. But did you ever send a linebacker into the third row with your shoulder pads? I don’t think so.
Erb knew that Butler was a 5-foot-9 Earl Campbell waiting to happen.
“I’m a short 6-1,” Butler smiled.
Butler is whatever he wants to be right now. He can go around saying he is 6-foot-4 and weighs 250 pounds and nobody would argue with him. You certainly wouldn’t get any argument from the bruised and battered Rainbow Warriors. Butler, who also pulverized New Mexico a few weeks back, played on Saturday like he was 8-feet tall and weighed 450 pounds. Just ask the 11 guys on Hawaii’s defense that he ran over for three-plus hours.
“I might be the shortest back but in my mind I’m the tallest back,” Butler said.
And the toughest. James Butler, after all, is so tough when he crosses the street, the cars look both ways. You tug on James Butler’s cape, you get a forearm to the mouth and a knee in your mid-section and all that remains visible on the field are your empty shoes.