Rivals.com - Dre Butler is the No. 1 JUCO in 2020
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Dre Butler is the No. 1 JUCO in 2020

Dre Butler
Dre Butler

After just two years of playing organized football, Independence (Kan.) Community College’s Dre Butler has risen to be the No. 1 ranked JUCO prospect in the 2020 class.

A 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end, Butler saw himself as a basketball player during his career at Newton High School in Georgia. It was not until his senior year, after much prompting from the Newton football coaches, that Butler decided to strap up a helmet and play football.

“My mom didn’t really want me to (play football) at first because she was always scared I’d get hurt,” Butler said. “It took me and a few coaches to break it down to her.”

After his one year of high school football, Butler did generate college interest, primarily from the FCS and Division II levels. In February of 2018 he signed a letter of intent with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, but did not end up playing for the Mocs.

In fact, Butler did not play anywhere during the 2018 football season. He arrived at Independence last spring and made an immediate impact for the Pirates, collecting 66 total tackles, including 22 for loss and 11.5 sacks in his first season.

FBS programs started teeing up offers for Butler even before he took his first snap of the 2019 season. First it was Akron and Liberty. Then Colorado, Arizona and Iowa State.

By the time his one season at Independence was over, Butler held offers from schools in every Power Five Conference. And his mother was converted.

“She loves it,” Butler remarked. “It’s getting me through college and I get a free education. That’s what she’s really looking forward to.”

Butler will leave Independence this spring with four years left to play three. He has taken just one official visit this far in the recruiting process, and that went to Maryland the weekend of Dec. 13.

“I loved the energy and it was a good experience,” Butler said of Maryland. “I do believe they have a good coaching staff and I believe they are going to turn the program around."

The second official visit will take place this upcoming weekend when Butler travels to Oklahoma. He also has official visits scheduled with Auburn (Jan. 24) and Oregon (Jan. 31), but goes into this final stretch of trips without a favorite school or a team to beat.

“I have been on just one official visit, and I am looking forward to visiting the other schools because I didn’t have the chance to go through the process in high school,” Butler said.

Butler also has not closed the door on additional schools. Florida State recently reached out and is now being considered for a visit. Whatever happens in the next three weeks, though, Butler plans to sign his letter of intent on Feb. 5 and get to work on realizing his potential.

“I still have a lot of growing to do,” Butler said. “I have areas I need to get better at; I see it and other people see it too. This was my second year playing organized football and I’m willing to work to get better.”

Check back next week when Rivals will release the entire JUCO Top 50 for the 2020 class.