Commanders rookie Percy Butler adopted comparable path as Brian Mitchell


Shortly after he acquired a name from the Washington Commanders on April 30 and realized they’d chosen him within the fourth spherical of the NFL draft, Percy Butler’s cellphone rang once more. This time, it was a well-known identify.

Washington nice Brian Mitchell was calling to verify in on Butler — and to inform him he has a pal and confidant ought to he ever want one in Ashburn.

Mitchell, the previous NFL operating again who stays the league’s all-time chief in punt and kick return yards, knew Butler’s path properly. Each starred at Plaquemine Excessive in Louisiana. Each went to Louisiana Lafayette (generally known as the College of Southwestern Louisiana when Mitchell performed there). Each had been drafted by Washington. And to prime it off, each grew to become fathers simply earlier than their rookie seasons.

“The whole time I was in high school, the whole time I was in college, everybody used to always ask me about B-Mitch because we’re from Plaquemine and we had the same journey,” Butler mentioned. “So I always knew of him.”

Plaquemine, a city on the Mississippi River about 15 miles south of Baton Rouge, has solely about 6,300 residents, per the 2020 Census. For it to provide two NFL gamers who attended the identical faculty and had been drafted by the identical crew is, properly, uncommon.

Like many small cities, the group is close-knit — as evidenced by Mitchell’s longtime relationship with Butler’s grandfather, Tip Butler, whom the rookie security has cited as a mentor. And although their connection has been temporary, Mitchell and Butler describe themselves as shut mates due to their shared journey.

“Once he got to my college, I started following him a lot. And then when Washington drafted him, I started thinking about that path,” Mitchell mentioned.

The 2 didn’t met when Butler was in highschool, they usually didn’t meet when he was at Louisiana Lafayette. However for the reason that draft, they’ve had a number of conversations.

“We have a very good connection with people down South — especially from my hometown,” Mitchell mentioned. “So I wanted to make sure he had someone he could lean on.”

Added Butler: “I know if I need anything, I can reach out to him. We got that from home … so I can always call if I need anything.”

Till eleventh grade, Butler was a multisport athlete, starring on the soccer area, the observe and the diamond. He dealt with shortstop and middle area for the Inexperienced Devils however admitted he performed “the whole outfield.”

So it shouldn’t be a shock that some analysts, such as Chris Simms, considered Butler as the perfect “pure safety” in his draft class, showcasing vary, uncommon velocity and an eagerness to hit.

Percy Butler’s life modified in a flash. Now he’s able to get to work.

Butler’s potential to play security and nickelback in defensive subpackages drew Washington to the 22-year-old. To this point at coaching camp, he has proved a standout in additional methods than one.

Early on, Butler has been everywhere in the area, deflecting and intercepting passes. His teammates, together with the receivers who went towards him, lauded him as a younger participant who has impressed.

“I want to prove that I can come in and learn — and I can play,” Butler mentioned. “A lot of people were talking about special teams coming in. I can do everything at a high level.”

Defensive backs coach Chris Harris describes Butler as “football smart,” with the savvy to know the sport totally and be capable to choose up the scheme rapidly. He famous Butler’s velocity (he ran a 4.36-second 40-yard sprint on the mix) and physicality, traits that the Commanders search on protection.

“Especially from the safety role and our back end, [we want] guys that can come up, guys that can cover, guys that can run,” Harris added. “The traditional safety, like myself when I was playing, those days are gone and out the window. And so guys got to be able to run. You got to be able to match. You may not be able to cover all wide receivers, but you need to be able to match up and cover some receivers in the slot, and that makes you a little bit more versatile. And so he has those traits that we like in our safety spot.”

Butler additionally has particular groups expertise, which the Commanders covet. That’s usually a path onto the 53-man roster for younger gamers, particularly these at crowded positions — comparable to Corridor of Fame operating again Terrell Davis and Tremendous Bowl-winning cornerback Chris Harris Jr. And in addition Mitchell, a fifth-round choose in 1990 who performed quarterback in faculty.

Mitchell completed with a bevy of NFL information and ranks second all-time in all-purpose yards, behind solely Jerry Rice. His success — and the hometown connection — has fueled Butler much more.

“It definitely just made me want to go harder,” he mentioned, “to put more history into it for Plaquemine.”

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