Impact Report: 2020 DE/OLB Jimari Butler

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    (Photo via Travis Middleton/

    Every time Tennessee gets a commitment in either football or men’s basketball, we will write up an impact report looking at what that recruit does well, what we feel he needs to improve in his game, and what his projected impact with the Vols could be over the next few years.

    Latest Commit: Jimari Butler, DE/OLB
    Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
    School: Murphy (Alabama)
    Home Town: Mobile, AL

    247Sports Composite: 
    No. 852 overall, No. 39 WDE
    247Sports: No. 1,332 overall, No. 62 WDE
    Rivals: 5.7 rating

    Notable Offers: Nebraska, Ole Miss, TCU, Maryland

    What we like:

    For someone who hasn’t played football at all in high school until this season, I’m really impressed with the amount of football IQ Butler has. He clearly has things to work on and is raw, but the potential is also very clearly there. He’s extremely athletic, and he has really quick feet. He’s explosive off the snap of the football, and he plays with great passion. He makes some split-second decisions that you definitely don’t expect a first-year defensive end to make. Butler is also a pretty vicious tackler. He brings a lot of versatility, too. He plays both with his hand down in the dirt as a down lineman and as a stand-up pass rusher for Murphy High School. He’s part of a defense that shut out two opponents and held three others to just one touchdown this season en route to a playoff appearance.

    Butler has so much intriguing ability, and he’s been a huge play-maker for Murphy this season. He totaled double digit sacks in his one and only season playing high school football, and his physicality and athleticism have turned heads.

    Places to improve: 

    For all the raw athleticism and talent that’s apparent in Butler’s game, there are also a lot fixes he’ll need to make in college. That’ll just come with development and coaching, though. Nothing that’s “wrong” with Butler’s game right now isn’t fixable with time, coaching, and learning. And it already looks like Butler is a quick learner considering how quickly and easily he’s picked things up in his senior year after not playing football the first three years of high school. He’ll also need to add on a good amount of weight no matter what position he ends up playing. Right now, he’s built an awful lot like Darrell Taylor was coming out of high school. Taylor wasn’t ready to contribute in his first two years on campus, but we’ve all seen what he’s developed into now. Imagine if he’d had UT’s current coaching staff when he first arrived on campus.


    Tennessee has a need for pass rushers next season, but I’m not sure Butler will be able to address that need. I really, really like the ceiling for Butler’s game, but I don’t think he’ll be an instant impact type of player. To me, he feels a bit more like Roman Harrison in the 2019 class. Harrison hasn’t played a ton for the Vols this season, but he’s flashed some of his potential and seems to have a really high ceiling himself. As I mentioned above, the same was said about Darrell Taylor. He redshirted, didn’t play a great deal his second season, then was a contributor in his third and has been a full-time starter in his fourth and fifth years. That’s where I see Butler. Maybe he redshirts as a freshman, maybe he plays enough not to redshirt. But I don’t think his true impact will be felt until 2021 at the earliest.

    Nathanael Rutherford
    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.