Vernon Butler may give Cam Newton run for his money in 'swag'

Panthers top pick Vernon Butler should be part of a top-notch rotation at defensive tackle. AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NFL MVP Cam Newton may have some competition in Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Vernon Butler.

Obviously not at quarterback, since Butler plays defensive tackle.

In swag.

Butler arrived on Friday for his first news conference at Bank of America Stadium wearing a pair of black Balenciaga high-top sneakers that are listed on the internet for around $585.

They weren’t quite as fancy as some of the sequin-studded loafers Newton has been known to wear to postgame news conferences along with tuxedo-style jackets and bow ties.

But they’re Butler’s favorite. And once he gets his estimated $4.3 million signing bonus as the 30th overall pick he’s likely to up the clothing budget substantially.

“For his national signing day he came in with a bow tie and horned-rimmed glasses,’’ said Chris Smith, who coached Butler at North Pike High in Summit, Mississippi. “He looked kind of like a 280-pound Urkel.

“He tried to dress up two or three days a week and on game day. He called that his swag.’’

Butler in particular likes Nike Jordans, so maybe it was destiny that the Panthers picked him. Michael Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

There’s a chance the two could meet on Friday night when the Hornets face the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.

“I haven’t thought about that, but it would be pretty nice to meet Michael Jordan,’’ said Butler, who was a basketball player until his junior year at North Pike.

Butler collects Jordans. He claims to have about 30 pair.

He also likes clothes.

Despite being so soft-spoken on Friday you barely could hear his deep, Southern voice, he can get loud with his outfits.

“Loves his clothes,’’ Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “He likes to dress. At the banquet he’ll show up in an all-yellow suit. He can wear it.

“And even if he [shouldn’t], there aren’t many people that would say anything to him.’’

That’s because Butler is built like a tank at 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds. It’s that size, along with extraordinary athletic ability for a person his size, that the Panthers hope will disrupt opposing quarterbacks for many years to come.

But off the field Butler is about style. He wore a dark maroon tuxedo to the draft in Chicago.

“Kept it simple,’’ he said.

Choosing a number at Carolina was simple, too. Butler couldn’t take the No. 9 he wore in college because the NFL doesn’t allow defensive linemen to wear single digit numbers.

Plus, No. 9 is owned by Carolina kicker Graham Gano, who tweeted this:

So Butler chose No. 92, last worn by defensive tackle Dwan Edwards.

Enough about style, though. The Panthers drafted Butler to be a part of a tackle rotation with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, the team’s first two picks in 2013.

They’re more interested in the swagger he’ll bring to the defense than the swag he’ll bring to the locker room.

But Butler will bring the swag.

“That’s Vernon,’’ Smith said. “Even in high school when he didn’t have as much finances as he does now, he brought that.’’