DeKALB – Northern Illinois linebacker Devon Butler’s recovery took another positive step Tuesday afternoon when he was released from OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, a hospital official told the Daily Chronicle.
The news came almost a week after doctors told Huskies coach Dave Doeren that Butler was close to being released. Butler had stayed at OSF Saint Anthony in Rockford since April 6, when he was airlifted from Kishwaukee Community Hospital after being the victim of a late-night shooting April 5.
“I’m super excited for him and for the team, his family,” Doeren told the Daily Chronicle on Tuesday night. “He’d been ready to get out of there for about a week.”
Butler will stay with NIU linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz until he can get back on his feet, Doeren said. Butler wants to attend NIU’s spring game Saturday, Doeren said, but it is unknown how long it will be until – or even if – he can play football again.
Doeren also said Butler “has got a ton of rehab to do.”
“Our plans are to not have him (next season) because that’s the worst-case scenario,” Doeren said. “Nobody’s focusing on football with him right now. Two weeks ago we didn’t know if he was going to live. The big thing for him right now is not rushing him.”
Doeren last visited Butler in the hospital Monday. He said the two watched the Miami Heat play the Atlanta Hawks, laughed and told jokes.
Players have visited Butler almost every day, Doeren said. Linebacker Jordan Delegal has worn Butler’s No. 9 jersey at almost every spring practice. Tyrone Clark has worn Butler’s jersey on a few occasions, too.
“Pizza on me (today) at Tuke’s house.. #DB9 celebration,” Delegal tweeted to fellow linebacker Pat Schiller on Tuesday afternoon.
As Butler’s condition improved, Doeren said, the sophomore linebacker continued to ask questions about practice. No matter what Butler’s progress is in returning to the field, Doeren said he’s a tremendous source of inspiration to the entire program.
“His story is a motivation for our players,” Doeren said. “Just what he’s been through, and how much he loves football. I got to think just being able to be himself again around his guys, around his coaches, around the people he loves outside of football is going to be great for him.”