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Syracuse Alum Proving His Worth in the CFL

The Orange and the Canadian Football League don’t have too many recent connections, aside from offensive quality control Matt Johnson having been dropped by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before joining Dino Babers’ coaching staff last summer. But now, after signing for the Ottawa Redblacks at the start of October, defensive back Devin Butler is showing exactly what he learned while with the Syracuse.

While making it to the pros is great for the SU alum, Butler also has a great chance of hoisting some hardware at the end of the season. Despite his team being +600 to win the Grey Cup this year, his play and recent CFL history indicate that he’ll be in for a rollercoaster ride to the finish.

Betting upsets common in the Grey Cup

Over the last few years, including this season, the Calgary Stampeders have emerged as the dominant force in the CFL and consistent favorites in the odds. Posting league-leading records of 15-2-1 in 2016 and 13-4-1 in 2017, the Stamps have also been able to make their way to the Grey Cup in each of the last two years.

However, the ultimate prize in Canadian football has eluded them, with the ‘inferior’ teams from the East Division surging to upset the bookmakers and reward those who backed them at long odds in the season. In 2016, it was Butler’s new team, Ottawa, who turned their losing 8-9-1 regular season record into a Cup win two years ago, while the Toronto Argonauts did the same with a 9-9 record last season.

The winner of the East has found a way to upset the higher seeds in the playoffs and defeat the dominant Stampeders in the final the last two seasons, with Butler’s Redblacks setting themselves for another run to defy the odds this year.

The Stampeders are heavily favored over their divisional rivals, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, their next closest opponents according to the CFL odds. But the Redblacks cannot be counted out despite their long odds. They’re set to be the first East champ with a winning record since they went 12-6 three years ago. Since Ottawa has won the Grey Cup since then, there’s certainly hope that this improved team can do it once again, and Devin Butler might be at the heart of the action.

Great start from Devin Butler

In the summer, Butler signed as a free agent for Calgary, but it didn’t work out for him. Luckily, later in the season, the Redblacks recognized his talent amidst some injury troubles, and have benefitted from bringing him in.

After two games, Butler has eight tackles and a forced fumble. In his CFL debut against Edmonton he had a forced fumble and four tackles. Against Hamilton, Butler remained had four tackles, helping his team nab their ninth win of the season over their closest rivals.

Butler has displayed the skills that he honed at Syracuse and is putting them to good use. He may also be on the winning side of another Cinderella story in the 2018 Grey Cup.

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