It is hard to fully relate to and appreciate the professional success of the Western Mustang Alumni who excel in their academic field. We were not always in the same programs as these individuals and never experienced their work first hand while they were enrolled at our school. This is different when it comes to sports. People tend to remember watching or are able to recall the standout athletes that dominated their respective sports, especially when their success leads them to a professional career.
Although it is rare, there are athletes who leave Western University and make a name for themselves at the next level. It happened in the early 90s when Steve Rucchin made a huge splash with the Western hockey team and proceeded to have a successful career in the NHL. And more recently with football star Andy Fantuz experiencing great success in the CFL. Another member of the Western family is emerging as a star in the CFL, and with only one season under his belt looks to improve on his All-Star Rookie campaign.
Craig Butler, a native of London, played his high-school football at St. Thomas Aquinas where he starred as both a Linebacker and Quarterback. When it came to deciding where he would pursue his post-secondary career, Craig chose to stay local and play for the Western Mustangs. During his four years as a Mustang, Butler played safety and defensive halfback as well as starring on special teams. He finished his career as a two-time OUA all-star, 1st team CIS all-star and top male student athlete at Western University.
Butler’s success as a Mustang lead to him being drafted 12th overall in the 2011 CFL draft by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Although he started the season as a backup, Butler took advantage of the opportunity given to him when veteran safety James Patrick was injured. By the end of the season Butler ranked 8th on the team in tackles (47) and tied for 1st in interceptions (5). When James Patrick returned from injury, Craig remained the starting safety while Patrick moved to defensive half-back. Craig’s success did not go unnoticed by CFL enthusiasts, and in a league where there are specific awards made just for Canadians, to ensure we win something, Butler was voted as a Western Conference All-Star at the safety position.
Heading into this season, the expectations have changed slightly for the second year safety. He will be counted on not only to produce individually as he did in his freshman season, but also to help translate his production into more wins for the Roughriders who missed the playoffs last season. Craig Butler begins his pursuit of the Grey Cup on June 29th in Hamilton, where he will play against ex-Mustang and Roughrider Andy Fantuz in the CFL’s season opener.