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Butler ready to face better competition in all-star game
Norcross WR to play in Army All-American game

SAN ANTONIO - Brice Butler isn't being cocky when he says it. He's just being truthful.

The Norcross senior, who is rated as one of the top prep wide receivers in the country, is used to being the best player on whatever football field he steps on.

He's used to being the superstar. The guy. The one who evokes fear in opposing cornerbacks.

But after a week in San Antonio practicing for today's U.S. Army All-American Game, he realized what's in store for him when he officially makes the jump from Region 7-AAAAA to Division I-A.

"It's a big difference going from playing against defensive backs from like Collins Hill to coming out here and playing these guys," said Butler, whose East team will battle the West today at 1 p.m. on NBC. "Everybody's fast. Everybody has good technique.

"And it's just a little different because the game is faster."

He hasn't been overwhelmed by the difference though.

According to all reports, Butler has been one of the best receivers on either team. He has caught virtually everything thrown his way and his precise route-running ability and large frame has made him a difficult matchup for all of the East team's cornerbacks in practice.

So now some All-Americans have experienced the same pain those defensive backs at Collins Hill, North Gwinnett, Duluth and the Forsyth County schools were forced to endure for the last two years.

"It's given me a glimpse of the kind of guys I'll be going up against once I get to college," Butler said. "Guys are strong. I'm used to being able to push guys around a little bit, but you can't really do that here. You have to use good technique against these guys. You have to run your routes correct and get off the ball and separate.

"If you don't do that, they're going to make a play."

More often than not, even against other All-Americans, it's been Butler making the play however.

The fact that he has fared so well in Texas shouldn't really be a surprise. He did commit to Southern California after all, and the Trojans have proven to be pretty solid talent evaluators over the last decade.

If the Rose Bowl champions spend all that time and all that money recruiting a kid from the other side of the country, odds are he's going to be a pretty special player.

"He runs great routes and he has great hands," said Terry Smith, an assistant coach for the East team. "But probably the best thing about him is his willingness to learn. He listens to constructive criticism and is very coachable."

Smith gave an example of a play during Thursday's morning practice.

"We had him running a corner route and he took an inside release," Smith said. "He still beat the kid, but it was kind of a tougher coverage. We made an adjustment and the second time he ran it, with the adjustment, he beat the kid pretty badly."

Butler wouldn't mind doing that a few more times today. Not only for his future fans out in Los Angeles, but for his current ones back in Norcross.

"I need to have a pretty good game (today)," Butler said. "Everything right now looks pretty good and I just hope everything works out ... and I'll be able to show off the blessings God gave me."

SideBar: Football

What: U.S. Army All-American High School Football Game

When: Today, 1 p.m.

TV: NBC

Local interest: Norcross' Brice Butler is a wide receiver for the East team