ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Josh Butts’ junior-college football coach says the former Illinois high school football star is not a Division I prospect and is not someone a Division I coach would “stash” with the intention of awarding him a scholarship.
To his knowledge, said Joliet (Ill.) Junior College coach Jeremy Richardson, Butts wasn’t being recruited by the University of New Mexico or anyone else.
Butts, 19, was arrested Saturday and charged with aggravated DWI, being a minor in possession of alcohol, reckless driving and driving without a license. He was driving a Ford SUV registered to members of former UNM head coach Mike Locksley’s family. Butts is a close friend of Meiko Locksley, Mike Locksley’s son. Meiko Locksley and Butts were teammates at Centennial High School in Champaign, Ill., while Mike Locksley was the offensive coordinator at the University of Illinois.
According to a criminal complaint, Butts told police that “Mr. Locksley brought him from Chicago to play and gave the vehicle to use.”
Brian Salazar, a passenger in the vehicle, told the New Mexico Daily Lobo that Butts had told him the same story.
Richardson said he believes that’s highly unlikely.
“I thought he was a Division II football player at best,” Richardson said.
Butts played for Joliet as a wide receiver in 2010, but was academically ineligible to return this season, Richardson said.
“Otherwise, he’d still be playing for me here,” he said. “I had no problems with Josh while he was here. … He came to practice every day, worked hard, just didn’t excel in the classroom.”
Richardson described Butts as a small (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) receiver with average physical ability.
“It’s kind of hard for a small receiver like that (to be recruited) unless you’re lights out on the football field,” Richardson said.
Richardson said he was not aware of any interest in Butts from any four-year schools.
“My take on it,” Richardson said, “is that he just went down there (to New Mexico) because he’s friends with the son of the former coach.”
Butts is being held on $2,500 bond at the Metropolitan Detention Center.