Last Wednesday, National Signing Day, is something of a major holiday for us in the office. But now that we’re over the swell of celebrating all of our recruits — whether they physically signed NLI or not–I want to talk about someone who didn’t receive much attention when he was a high school student-athlete.
I’m talking about Malcolm Butler, who gave one of the most stand out performances at the most-watched Super Bowl in the history of the game. Oh, and it helped that the game couldn’t have been written any better. (Including the half time. Love you, Katy Perry!)
Just four years ago, at a local community college…
Just four years ago, Malcolm could have been found playing football at a local community college in his home state of Mississippi. With the ability to play at a higher level, but not the grades, Butler went to school, played football, and on off-weekends, stayed on as an employee at the Popeye’s Chicken in his home town, where he had been working since high school to help his mom make ends meet.
After getting kicked off the team at Hinds Community College for drug charges, Malcolm quit school to work at Popeye’s full-time, where he quickly learned if he was ever going to make something of himself, or make a living, he needed to turn himself around get a college degree.
He was given a second chance to join the team at Hinds, and took full advantage of the opportunity in front of him, eventually working his way to a roster spot at West Alabama – a Division II school.
Everyone Malcolm has come in contact with the past 10 years has had the same things to say about him: the guy has incredible work ethic, is incredibly kind, and was someone, in general, who just makes your day better. Former employers, coaches, and teammates have all shared the same sentiment about Butler since his rise to fame on Sunday.
So how did Malcolm end up in Foxborough, and eventually out on the field Sunday night playing for the New England Patriots? It came down to making the most of his opportunities, no matter how small; from working his way through high school, to community college, to a Division II roster.
It only takes one coach to notice your performance.
It took working, playing, and planning for that one look – that one look from someone, anyone, that would lead to the next opportunity, to the next open door.
All last week, we couldn’t have been more excited to celebrate the student-athletes who committed to schools with #ISignedToday on social media. We rang the commitment bell and cheered you on all day.
But for those of you still waiting for an offer, still dreaming of signing that NLI, and still wondering where you’re headed – we’re cheering just as loud for you, too. If you’re ever feeling dispirited about your recruiting journey, just remember how much Malcolm’s story can teach us. When performing in life – at work, at school, on the field– all it takes is one look. Play hard on every play; you never know who’s watching.