AMES — Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler was playing Call of Duty on Sunday after Iowa State’s win over Kansas when he got a text from teammate Kyle Kempt.
Kempt told Butler to turn on the TV. Butler promptly replied that he was playing a video game.
So, Kempt recorded what he was seeing on his TV screen and texted it to Butler.
The video was Randy Moss doing his popular “You got Mossed” segment he does for ESPN every Sunday. He led it off with Butler’s catch over Kansas’ Hassan Defense.
“He sent me the video and it was Randy Moss and that was so surprising to me because I grew up loving Randy Moss,” Butler said. “I had an 84 jersey when he was with the Vikings and he was always my favorite player. I always wanted to be like him.”
It’s unfair to expect Butler to make a ridiculous play every week, but at the same time it’s almost surprising when he doesn’t. Iowa State (5-3, 4-2 Big 12) hosts Baylor (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) on Saturday, which will be Butler’s next opportunity to make jaws drop.
Butler leads the nation with 24 yards per reception, he has nine of the 11 longest plays from an Iowa State player this season including the longest, which was an 83-yard touchdown against Kansas, and he also has eight touchdowns.
All of that gets more amazing when you remember the 6-foot-6 Butler has only played organized football for five years.
Butler grew up in Baltimore where he played football with the other neighborhood kids, so he wasn’t completely new to the sport. Even back then, he said he’d “Moss” the other kids.
He was a Ravens fan, but he always followed Moss. Butler wears No. 18 now, which was Moss’ number when he played for the Oakland Raiders.
He also wears 18 because he likes to say he’s two times better than he was in high school – Butler wore No. 9 in high school.
“Hakeem has always been an extremely athletic and gifted athlete,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “Even last year, as talented as our receiving corps was, and I think he was bar none, one of the most talented guys that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach at the wide receiver position.
“Where his growth has been phenomenal – even over the last nine months – is just in terms of what it takes to be an elite level football player. Hakeem has always had a high ‘want to.’
“Even when you talk from the start of the season to where we’re at today – I think (his consistency) has certainly grown,” Campbell added.
What’s scary – especially for opposing defenses – is Campbell believes there is another level or two to Butler’s game.
“I think you’ll only see him get better because he does have that passion to be really, really special,” Campbell said. “I haven’t seen him settle and say, ‘You know, I’m really good.’ He’s continued to grind away at it. I do appreciate that about him.
“He’s put himself in a great position to be a phenomenal football player.”