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Vanderbilt's Adam Butler at Super Bowl LII with Patriots


BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A total of 253 players were picked in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Vanderbilt's Adam Butler wasn't one of them.

The Patriots ended up signing Butler as an undrafted free agent after the draft, but questions followed him to Foxborough, Mass. The defensive lineman was considered a longshot to make the roster of the defending Super Bowl champs.

"I remember when my parents asked me, 'What are you going to do now?,'" Butler said. "I told them, 'I am going to go to New England, and I am going to make the team. And I am going to help the team.'"


"They knew I was going for it, and they were 100 percent behind me."

Butler made the 53-man roster, and he's played all 18 games during New England's run to the Super Bowl LII. He's started six games for the Patriots, and he's been a successful pass-rushing interior lineman.

Butler tallied 19 tackles and two sacks during the regular season, and he's had sacks in both of the team's playoff games – against the Titans and Jaguars.

"Adam has done a good job, and he did a good job for Vanderbilt," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He played a lot of different positions there. He played defensive end, he played defensive tackle. I talked to the coaches down there (at Vanderbilt) and they had a lot of good things to say about him, how he worked and how he prepared.

"He has done a good job for us."

Butler, who began his collegiate career as an offensive lineman, had 31 total tackles, 18 solo stops, 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high four quarterback sacks in his final season at Vanderbilt. He suspects he won over Belichick when he visited Nashville last March, and attended the school's Pro Day.

Butler spent two hours with Belichick even before his on-field tests, watching game tape.

"He was basically just testing me, making sure I knew the game plan," Butler said of Belichick. "We talked football for two hours straight."

On Sunday, Butler will play in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here this week, he told a story about how frustrated he was as a seldom-used player in middle school, and the day he dropped his helmet and walked off the field.

His father then challenged him, and he became a fighter.

Now, he's preparing for a Super Bowl.

"It is surreal, man," Butler said. "My breath is taken away. I don't know how to describe it. I am just glad to be here."

The Tennessee Titans take on the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. (AP Photos)

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