Former Vicksburg cornerback signs with West Alabama

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Off-the-field issues had former Vicksburg High corner back Malcolm Butler facing a possible life without football.

Butler spent an entire season away from the game and the absence strengthed his desire to play again. But he made the most of a second chance at Hinds Community College. Now, he’s on to the next level after signing a football scholarship with West Alabama, a NCAA Division II school and a member of the Gulf South Conference.

After starting much of his freshman season in 2009 at cornerback for Hinds, Butler had high hopes of going to a big Division I program.

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“I had a couple of off-the-field issues,” Butler said without elaborating. “I just knew I had to get back. The year away was tough, but it was worth it. I got refocused.”

Butler was welcomed back by Hinds coach Gene Murphy’s staff and made an immediate impact by winning his old corner spot on the Hinds defense. He followed suit by having a good season in 2011. He swiped three interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown in a playoff-clinching win against Jones County Junior College. He also had 12 pass breakups and 40 tackles, including three for losses. For Hinds, the playoff bid was its first since 2004.

Butler was not that pleased with his sophomore season.

“It was my effort,” Butler said. “I should have produced more. I’m fortunate I’m going to a good Division II school at West Alabama. At the same time, I felt my talent level is better.

“That said, I’ve been told, it’s not where you’re at, but what you do there that is important. I’m going to West Alabama to make an impact. If I do that, I’ll get noticed and I can go on to my big goal, which is to play pro ball.”

Butler’s dreams are not without merit. He ran a blistering time in the 40-yard dash at 4.3 seconds. Secondly, the Gulf South Conference, is known for being a home for second-chance players. Former University of Florida standout Janoris Jenkins was out of the Gators’ program, but landed at the University of North Alabama.

The Lions are West Alabama’s biggest rival and Jenkins was able to play well enough to become the 39th overall selection in the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams in April.

West Alabama defensive coordinator Robert Henry said Butler’s skill set is just what the Tigers need.

“He’s obviously an excellent player,” Henry said. “He’s played in one of the toughest junior college leagues in the country. He’s got skills and is very fast.”

Butler said he’s ready to get started.

“I’m going to battle for a starting cornerback position,” he said. “I also hope show my speed as a kick returner.”