Rashad Butler of Carver fosters no illusions about what it will take for him to excel in his first season of varsity football. He fully understands that it won’t be easy to duplicate what he did last year as a nearly-unstoppable force at the junior varsity level.
“The biggest challenge I see is how well I’m able to adjust to the varsity level,” said Butler, a 5-feet-10, 180 pounds sophomore. “It’s a faster game and it’s more intense. Plus, I realize that there are other players out there who have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. That’s something I’ll have to get used to.”
Butler creates much excitement as a lethal weapon at running back. He finished up last season with 1,730 total offensive yards and 21 touchdowns. He poses problems for opposing defenses because of his ability to outmaneuver would-be tacklers. With his break-away speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash), Butler routinely gets open on pass routes, which makes him difficult to cover one-on-one.
It didn’t take very long for first-year coach Germaine Crowell to recognize that Butler has a bright football future ahead of him. Even though it’s only been a few weeks in which Crowell has watched Butler in action, he senses that the best is yet to come.
“Rashad’s upside is simply off the charts,” said Crowell. “As long as he keeps working and keeps improving, he’ll be a special player. With him, the instincts, the acceleration, the footwork, all the attributes you see in the best running backs, are already in place. The potential is there for him to go as far as he wants to go in this game.”
Although Butler is not a starter in Carver’s backfield, he’s certainly due to get his share of playing time on offense. His value as a game-changing playmaker gives the Yellowjackets added versatility in how they operate from the spread.
“When we started preseason practice, I heard a lot about Rashad and what he’s capable of doing,” said Crowell. “After watching him for a few days, there’s no doubt that everything I’ve heard is true. When Rashad is on the field, good things do happen. It’s my job to find ways to put the ball in his hands where he can be the most effective.”
Butler’s value to the Jackets is not limited strictly to offense. He’s a starting cornerback who had two interceptions in Carver’s season-opening loss to Greensboro Dudley last week. A year ago, the Triad Sports Weekly voted Butler as the Defensive Player of the Year in junior varsity football.
“I feel like I’m at my best when I’m at cornerback,” said Butler. “I like to hit and I like coming up with interceptions. The main goal for me is to improve my pass coverage. I’m getting better at reading pass patterns and getting a good jump on the ball after it’s in the air.”