Matthew Butler Sees Artis Exceeding Expectations, Freshmen Cultivating into Program

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Matthew Butler is a returning X-factor for Tennessee in the upcoming 2020 season. He only started four games in 2019, but he led all Tennessee defensive linemen with 45 total tackles. He is back for more in 2020, and he is the latest feature on "The Slice Podcast." 

It has been quite the tumultuous off-season for athletes across the country, and now that they are returning to campus, things are different, to say the least. At Tennessee, heading into the extended sports dead period, the Vols had to overcome the departure of Craig Fitzgerald, as he returned to the NFL. 

Tennessee formally announced the hiring of A.J. Artis last week, but he still had his hands full during the transition, as the vast majority of Tennessee's 2020 signing class did not make it to campus to see any form of the strength and conditioning program, so they had to become accountable on their own. 

During the initial moments of the podcast, Butler talked briefly about the hiring of Artis, and how Tennessee's freshmen defensive linemen are acclimating to the program early. 

Butler said on the return to campus, "it has been good, you know. We have had the opportunity to have zoom meetings while we were away. It has been really good to have my teammates around me, my brothers, be able to see them- be able to be critiqued, critique them, be able to see my coaches, and be able to grow as a team, as well as an individual." 

Butler added on the incoming freshmen, "it has been good. I can speak mostly for the D-Line, but Omari (Thomas), RJ (Reginald Perry), and Dom (Dominick Bailey), he was already here, so with Omari and RJ, they are both really big guys. They move well, so it is good to see them cultivate themselves into the program, and us help them cultivate into the program. They are learning. We are learning from them. They are learning from us." 

Butler, a North Carolina native, had a previous relationship with Artis, also a North Carolina native before they both came to Tennesee. Butler believes expectations are high for the new strength coach. 

He said, "I have actually known AJ way longer than when he came to Tennessee. I met him when he was at Duke University. He is also a North Carolina native like I am. So, it is really good to see a guy who I like and respect to move up in the ranks. I respect him a lot. I know he is a protege of strength coaches, so he is going to exceed expectations as a strength coach for sure. 

You can listen to the full episode below: