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Penn State’s Jabari Butler Isn’t Your Average Walk-On

Penn State football has a rich history of walk-ons who became major contributors. Junior cornerback Jabari Butler could be next.

Butler transferred into the program this offseason after spending two years at FCS Abilene Christian in Texas, but he’s no stranger to competing on a big stage. Butler played his high school ball at powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, where he was teammates with Randall Cunningham, Jr. and Snoop Dogg’s son Cordell Broadus.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Butler can flat out fly, both on the turf and the track. Dwight Galt said he’s one of five Nittany Lions on the roster to run in the 4.3s during post-spring break testing, joining Saquon Barkley, Grant Haley, Saeed Blacknall, and DeAndre Thompkins. Butler, who hails from Potomac, Md., was also an accomplished sprinter at Gorman, posting a career-best 10.85 in the 100-meter dash.

Penn State returns plenty of talent at corner, a position that makes a strong case as the deepest on Brent Pry’s defense. Haley and John Reid will enter the season with a combined 39 starts, while Christian Campbell and Amani Oruwariye have seen a bunch of playing time themselves. With two years of eligibility left, Butler will get to work this spring in hopes of cracking the rotation. At the very least, his speed would make him a terrifying presence at gunner on special teams.

He’ll compete with redshirt freshmen Zech McPhearson and T.J. Johnson, as well as stud early enrollee Lamont Wade, for the fifth corner spot on the depth chart. Butler held a pair of Division I offers from Rice and Wyoming coming out of high school, but settled on Abilene Christian, where he earned Southland Conference Freshman of the Year in 2015 thanks to a league-high six interceptions.

Butler, who wears No. 20 for the Nittany Lions, will be one of the more intriguing players to watch in the Blue-White Game on April 22.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected].

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