Jimari Butler has played exactly one year of high school football.
Even still, the Mobile, Alabama, native quickly picked up considerable Power Five conference attention due to his combination of size, length and explosiveness as a 6-foot-5, 215-pound outside linebacker at Murphy High School.
On Monday, he put that whirlwind recruitment to bed, verbally committing to Nebraska.
In his lone season playing football at Murphy, Butler compiled 60 tackles (22 for loss), 14½ sacks and 21 quarterback hurries, according to al.com.
"This is his first year playing football since seventh grade, so he hasn’t played much football," Murphy head coach Rico Jackson told the Journal Star this month. "But what makes him highly attractive (to colleges) is his length and he can play a number of positions. He has natural bend, he has a motor, he’s physical. You’ve got all the tools.
"And then I think because he’s only played one year of football, he’s raw, so they can kind of mold him how they want to, and he doesn’t really have a lot of bad habits that they have to break. They can shape him how they want to shape him."
Jackson took over at Murphy in January, saw Butler and knew right away that he needed to see if any interest in football remained.
"He just thought he was a basketball guy and I saw his build and we pretty much — I don’t want to say we talked him into it — but we just told him the benefits of football and how I thought we could help him," Jackson said. "He gave it a shot and now look where we are: He’s got a ton of Power Five offers and I can’t even name the FCS and Group of Five offers he has."
Butler originally committed to Tennessee in November but looked around, eventually taking visits to Nebraska the past two weeks before making his decision between those two schools.
The Huskers first offered Butler in early October and they haven't stopped recruiting him since, even after he initially committed. That, Jackson said, made a big difference.
"The biggest deal is that Nebraska has been really consistent and that pays dividends in the recruiting world," Jackson said. "(NU defensive coordinator Erik Chinander) has done just a phenomenal job of being consistent and staying on him even when he was a one-time Tennessee commit. I’m really impressed by their staff and how they came in and they just stayed on him."
Butler is at least the fourth known player in the Huskers' 2020 class that projects as an outside linebacker and the sixth linebacker overall, and the Huskers still aren't done pursuing players at the positions.
He joins high school recruit Blaise Gunnerson (Carroll, Iowa) and junior college prospects Junior Aho (New Mexico Military Institute) and Niko Cooper (Hutchinson Community College, Kansas) on the outside, while Keyshawn Greene (Crawfordville, Florida) could play either spot and juco Eteva Mauga-Clements is likely an inside linebacker.
They each have differing skillsets, too, from Gunnerson's combination of size and power to Aho's raw athleticism to Cooper's length, which is similar to Butler.
"(Chinander) just sees using Jimari in various ways and all of that," Jackson said. "Outside backer, he can put his hand down, he can stand up and do a bunch of different things. (Head coach Scott Frost) came down and he’s done a good job of recruiting him, as well. He basically expressed the plan they have for Jimari and the things they can do with him."
Butler is the fifth player to verbally pledge to the Huskers in the past five days -- he joins Mauga-Clements, Greene, Cooper and juco wide receiver Omar Manning (Kilgore College) -- and the 19th known member of Nebraska's 2020 class overall.
The group is now ranked No. 20 overall by the 247Sports Composite and No. 19 according to Rivals. Both rank the class No. 4 among Big Ten teams.
After an offense-heavy start to the recruiting cycle for NU, nine of the past 10 verbal commitments have been on the defensive side of the ball.
2020 Husker football recruits
|Zavier Betts||WR||6-2||190||Omaha (Bellevue West)||****|
|Marquis Black||DL||6-4||280||McDonough, Ga. (Eagle's Landing)||***|
|Alante Brown||WR||6-0||190||Chicago (Simeon)||****|
|Jimari Butler||OLB||6-5||215||Mobile, Ala. (Murphy)||***|
|Alex Conn||OT||6-6||280||Derby, Kansas||***|
|Niko Cooper||OLB||6-5||220||Memphis, Tenn. (Hutchinson C.C.)||***|
|Turner Corcoran||OT||6-6||280||Lawrence, Kan. (Free State)||****|
|Ronald Delancy III||DB||5-11||190||Miami (Northwestern)||***|
|Marcus Fleming||WR||5-10||160||Miami, Fla. (Northwestern)||****|
|Jaiden Francois||CB||6-0||185||Homestead, Fla.||****|
|Henry Gray||DB||6-0||175||Miami (Central)||****|
|Keyshawn Greene||LB||6-3||205||Crawfordville, Fla. (Wakulla)||****|
|Blaise Gunnerson||OLB||6-5||250||Carroll, Iowa (Kuemper)||****|
|Nash Hutmacher||DT||6-5||305||Chamberlain, South Dakota||***|
|Tamon Lynum||DB||6-2||170||Orlando, Fla. (Evans)||***|
|Omar Manning||WR||6-4||225||Lancaster, Texas (Kilgore College)||****|
|Eteva Mauga-Clements||ILB||6-2||210||Pleasant Hill, Calif. (Diablo Vall. College)||***|
|Sevion Morrison||RB||6-0||200||Tulsa, Oklahoma (Edison)||****|
|William Nixon||WR||5-11||185||Waco, Texas (Midway)||***|
|Pheldarius Payne||DE||6-3||270||Suffolk, Va. (Lackawanna CC)||***|
|Jordon Riley||DE||6-5||300||Durhan, N.C. (Garden City C.C.)||***|
|Marvin Scott III||RB||5-9||205||Port Orange, Fla. (Spruce Creek)||***|
|Logan Smothers||QB||6-2||180||Muscle Shoals, Ala.||****|
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