Nevada’s best offensive player and Chicago native wants to be closer to home for senior season
James Butler made a habit of garnering second looks in his first three seasons at Nevada. Most of those came on the football field.
On Tuesday, while most were starting to get the grill ready for the Fourth of July celebrations, Butler grabbed attention off the field. And it will be the last time he makes a headline at Nevada.
The Wolf Pack’s eighth all-time leading rusher (3,316 yards) announced on Twitter that he is transferring to Iowa.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for the countless blessings,” Butler tweeted. “I would like to thank the Nevada Wolf Pack community and fans for taking a young kid from the Midwest and treating me like I am one of your own. I’m extremely grateful for all the support I’ve received since I’ve stepped on this campus. With my hard work and dedication in the classroom, I’ve graduated within three years, I’ve decided to spend my last season of eligibility closer to home in front of my mother/family and attend the University of Iowa. This decision has not been an easy one, but one that I felt is best for my family and I. I will always be battle born and battle ready and a proud alumni of the University of Nevada. I want to thank you for the everything you’ve done for me and wish you all nothing but the absolute best.”
Nevada’s 2016 team MVP will be eligible to play immediately for the Hawkeyes, who run an offense more tailored to Butler in the backfield. Iowa went 8-5 last season in a run heavy offense. He’ll compete for carries with redshirt senior Akrum Wadley, who averaged over 83 yards per game a season ago and scored 10 touchdowns.
Certainly factoring in Butler’s transfer is the implementation of the Air Raid offense, by new head coach Jay Norvell and offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, that would presumably take away from Butler’s carries and potential draft stock, although the coaching staff attempted to dispel that nation.
“Over the last week, James Butler has expressed a desire to graduate and transfer to a school closer to home,” Norvell said in a release from the school. “He has a strong desire to have his mother see him play in his last season of college football. We wish him all the best.”
Sophomore running back Jaxson Kincaide figures to be among the frontrunners to take over Butler’s staring spot in the backfield. Kincaide, Nevada’s 2016 Newcomer of the Year, appeared in all 12 games last season and carried the ball 78 times for 334 yards and trio of touchdowns, the first coming in the loss at Notre Dame.
Nevada went 5-7 last season with one of the nation’s easiest schedules and it cost now former coach Brian Polian his job. Expectations are even further limited for the upcoming season due to the coaching change, a much more difficult schedule, and now the departure of Butler.
Fall camp starts in approximately a month.