Notre Dame loses CB Devin Butler for 14-16 weeks with foot injury

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

BRIDGMAN, Mich. — A spring full of promise and recovery for Notre Dame cornerback Devin Butler took an unfortunate turn on Friday, muddling his prospects for the coming season.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly revealed Monday that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback from Washington, D.C., suffered a refracture of his left foot. Butler first injured the foot on Dec. 28 in practice, four days before he was to start against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

This time he’ll be out of action for the next 14-16 weeks, per Kelly, delaying — if not eventually deferring — his senior season. Butler does have a redshirt year available and could elect to take his final season of eligibility in 2017 rather than 2016, depending on how quickly the injury heals and what the cornerback depth chart looks like.

“It’s tough,” Kelly said from Lost Dunes Golf Club, the site of the second annual Kelly Cares Foundation Golf Invitational fundraiser. “(He’s) a guy that’s struggled both in his life and in football.

“He had a great semester academically. We really see him trending in the right way. And then to have an injury like that was very disappointing for him. And we’re disappointed for him.”

Kelly said Butler would undergo surgery next Monday and have another screw inserted into the left foot.

Fellow senior Cole Luke is ND’s lone returning cornerback, with KeiVarae Russell heading to the NFL. Redshirt freshman Shaun Crawford emerged from spring practice as the front-runner to claim the other starting cornerback spot, though Butler and junior Nick Watkins were among those in the mix still to challenge in August training camp.

Butler would have also been a a strong consideration to have on the field as the third cornerback when the Irish went to their nickel and dime pass-prevention coverages.

Butler played in 12 of ND’s 13 games in 2015, drawing a start in the regular-season finale against Stanford after Russell had suffered a season-ending leg injury. He recorded 11 tackles, with two pass breakups and a fumble recovery last season.

“He was making great progress,” Kelly said. “It’s just unfortunate.”

Notre Dame cornerback Devin Butler was formally charged with resisting arrest and battery of a police officer on Tuesday following an altercation last weekend. (AP  Photo/MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ)