Plaquemine, Louisiana, is surrounded by farmland and has a population of 6,500 people. It's known as the "City of Hospitality," and if you ask Percy Butler, the nickname is a fitting one. The close-knit, friendly feel of the small Baton Rouge town was a memorable part of his upbringing.
"The best thing about Plaquemine is just knowing everybody and having that brotherhood within the community," the rookie safety said.
Brian Mitchell knows that sense of community and brotherhood well. The former Washington running back and return specialist also grew up in the area. In fact, Mitchell has known Butler's grandpa and biggest mentor "Tip" for what he describes as "forever." Though separated by over 30 years, the two men from Louisiana share a lot of similarities in their journeys to Washington.
After starring for the Plaquemine High School Green Devils, both Butler and Mitchell traveled west to play college ball for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Their careers as Ragin' Cajuns had a significant impact on them as student-athletes. The support of the fans was something special. Being on campus during those years taught them a lot about themselves and who they wanted to be.
"It just made me a better person," Butler said.
Mitchell was keen on that Ragin' Cajun connection when Butler was selected by Washington with the 113th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old safety was the first University of Louisiana-Lafayette product to be drafted by Washington since the 1990 draft when Mitchell was picked in the fifth round.
To learn more about the type of player Butler was, Mitchell spoke to fellow former Ragin' Cajun quarterback Don Wallace whose son Deuce played with Butler at UL. The UL player-turned-UL dad lauded the young safety for being "smart as hell."
In addition to some of the elements of their similar football paths, Butler and Mitchell also relate on the level of starting out their professional careers as young fathers. Mitchell, a father of four, was already a parent when he began his rookie season. He noted that being a dad as a young pro athlete "made him become more focused." Fatherhood has already had a similar effect on Butler who, just two days after watching his dream of being drafted come true, welcomed a baby girl into the world.
"I'm always thinking about what I'm going to do to make sure I'm making it for my daughter," Butler said. "I'm always thinking about her, making sure I'm taking the right steps, thinking things twice through before I do it."
It's an exciting time for Butler in more ways than one. As the rookie adjust to what the months ahead have in store, he can be sure a Plaquemine native who knows what it means to rep the Burgundy & Gold will be cheering him on.
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