Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of the Indiana Hoosiers' magical 9-1 regular season that resulted in a Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl against O.J. Simpson’s USC Trojans, we at Hoosier Huddle decided to honor Hoosier Football history with our Legacy Player Series. I want to thank Mark Deal for taking the time and effort to help us with this list and teach us about some of the overlooked history of Indiana Football. Hopefully, this series will serve as a window into the past. We will kick off the series by looking at former Hoosier wide receiver and Bloomington native Jade Butcher.
Indiana has had some great wide receivers come through their program, but none better than Jade Butcher. Mark Deal considers Butcher to be “the best wide receiver ever here (at IU).” Butcher’s accolades and stats back the high praise up. Butcher played in 30 games at IU from 1967 to 1969. Remarkably he scored 30 touchdowns (10 in every year) in those three seasons. “30 touchdowns in 30 games in an era when we threw the ball 15 times a game, just amazing.” Deal added.
Butcher’s legend started just a few short miles from IU’s campus at Bloomington High School where he earned All-State honors in football by scoring 29 touchdowns in 29 games and was also an all-sectional basketball player. He was elected into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
As a Hoosier, Butcher helped lead the team to a 19-11 record over three seasons, including the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth in 1967. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection in 1968 and 1969 and earned First Team All-American honors in 1969 when he made 37 catches for 552 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished his IU career with 117 receptions, 1,810 yards and 30 touchdowns. In an article written by Robert Markus of the Chicago Tribune on Saturday October 28, 1967 that featured IU quarterback Harry Gonzo and Butcher, Gonzo had this to say about his favorite target, "Jade doesn't have exceptional speed, but he always makes the right moves. I look for him when I'm in trouble."
Butcher is still fifth on the IU all-time career touchdowns list and holding on to 10th on the career yards list. Current Hoosier receiver Simmie Cobbs needs 661 yards this season to pass Butcher on the list.
After his three year career at IU, Butcher was selected 147th overall (sixth round) by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1970 NFL Draft. He was elected into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in June of 2007. Currently, Butcher is living in Ellettsville, Indiana.
We invite our readers to share their memories of Jade Butcher in the comments section below. We will continue with our Legacy Player Series on Friday with John Tavener.
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