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Originally published January 29, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Page modified January 30, 2010 at 7:37 PM

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Washington linebacker Donald Butler trying to build his NFL resume

Donald Butler was impressive in front of NFL scouts and coaches this week at practices for the Senior Bowl.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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MOBILE, Ala. — Donald Butler is a construction-management major who's about one quarter away from his degree at Washington.

That's going to have to wait for a little while, though.

Butler is busy building something else right now. For the past week, he has been generating momentum that he might ride all the way into the NFL.

Butler is scheduled to play in Saturday's Senior Bowl, and the UW linebacker is the only player from any of this state's colleges in Alabama for a week of practice and preparation that proceeded at a breakneck pace.

"It's crazy," Butler said. "We've gone from one thing to the next thing to the next."

Consider it the start of a three-month evaluation in which he will be weighed and measured, poked and prodded, as 32 NFL teams make up their minds whether and when to draft him. In many ways, this is Butler's first job interview.

"You have to look at it that way, as a job," Butler said. "Because potentially, you could be making a lot of money in this time frame of your life."

Butler has a lot to gain in that regard. The next three months will determine whether he's a mid-round choice who enters training camp as part of a team's plan, or if he becomes an undrafted free agent trying to scratch his way onto a roster.

So much of the draft buildup focuses on those very few names at the top of the draft order. Butler's story reflects the reality of so many leaving college. He's just doing his darnedest to land the best gig he can.

When this week began, Butler was considered a somewhat surprising participant at the Senior Bowl, something that reflects more on Washington's waning national profile than Butler's talents. By the end of the week, Butler was considered one of those prospects who really helped himself.

Scouts liked his athleticism, specifically his backpedaling ability and his feel for dropping into coverage. His size came as a surprise, too. Butler weighed a very defined 244 pounds when he was measured Monday morning, while a room full of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers watched and scribbled notes as if he were a runway model.

"It's definitely a meat market like everybody says," Butler said. "To go up there in front of hundreds of guys who are checking you out, it definitely made your heart pound a little bit, being up there in just your spandex shorts.

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"It's part of the process, so you've got to get used to it and you've got to be willing to do that."

It is an opportunity Butler embraced this week, but his NFL audition is only beginning. After the Senior Bowl, he will return to Florida, where he's training, and then perhaps will get an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in late February in Indianapolis.

Consider it Career Building 101 as Butler takes his shot at reaching the NFL.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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