Jabari Butler transferred to Penn State from FCS Abilene Christian this past offseason, and joins the team as a walk-on with a better resume than most. The junior cornerback had scholarship offers from Rice and Wyoming coming out of high school, but opted to play for Abilene Christian University. He had a stellar freshman season in 2015, highlighted by 6 interceptions and the honor of being named Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. He followed it up with a sophomore slump, appearing in only 6 games in the 2016-17 season that may have encouraged him to find a change in scenery.
A Maryland native, Butler went to Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Along with his ball-hawking skills displayed during his freshman year, Jabari Butler brings elite speed running sub 4.4 in the 40-meter and a personal best of 10.85 in the 100-meter dash.
Even with John Reid’s injury, competition at the cornerback position is fierce with seniors Grant Haley and Christian Campbell, and the highly touted freshman Lamont Wade leading the way. Butler’s experience playing FCS football for two years may give him an edge over some of the younger players early on, but I expect his biggest impact to be felt on special teams. His speed alone will give opposing teams something to think about, as he races down the field to cover Blake Gillikin’s booming punts.
Let’s hope a return back East, and closer to his home in Maryland helps revitalize the collegiate career of Jabari Butler who will make his first appearance in a Penn State uniform in less than three weeks!