National Players of the Year


It's the Heisman Trophy of Junior College football, and the Butler Grizzlies can lay claim to four winners in the past 12 years - more than any other school in the nation!

Rudi Johnson - 1999 - National Player of the Year

Austin Panter - 2006 - National Defensive Player of the Year

Markus White - 2007 - National Defensive Player of the Year

Cornellius Carradine - 2010 - National Defensive Player of the Year

Cornellius Carradine
Cincinnati, Ohio
Florida State University

Cornellius Carradine was the Defensive Player of the Year in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and a First-Team NJCAA All-American selection in 2010. He helped lead Butler to a KJCCC and Region 6 title as well as a berth in the 2010 NJCAA Football Championship Game (Citizen's Bank Bowl).

The Cincinnati, Ohio, native led the KJCCC with 120 tackles (4th in NJCAA) and 16 sacks (T-2nd in NJCAA). He also had 20 tackles for loss (7th in NJCAA), two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown.

Carradine was the leader of a Butler defense that held opponents to a mere 9.5 points per game and 227.5 yards of offense during the regular season. He twice earned NJCAA Defensive Player of the Week honors this season and his best performance of 2010 came in a 35-12 win over Garden City on Oct. 2 when he was credited with 19 tackles (14 solo), including five tackles for loss and a sack.

Carradine is the third defensive player from Butler since 2006, and fourth overall, to be selected as the NJCAA Football Player of the Year. His honor also marks the fifth consecutive year that a player from the KJCCC has been named either the offensive or defensive NJCAA Football Player of the Year.

Carradine followed in the footsteps of former Butler defensive end and 2007 NJCAA Football Player of the Year Markus White and played the remainder of his collegiate career at Florida State University. Carradine emerged as one of the nation’s top defensive ends in 2012 and led the Seminoles in tackles (80) until suffering a season-ending injury in the regular season finale against Florida. Carradine was selected as the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week a league-leading three times.

After finishing at Florida State, Carradine was selected in the second round (40th overall pick) of the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.



Rudi Johnson
Virginia Beach, Va.
Auburn University
Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions

There have been few, if any, players who have dominated the NJCAA over a two-year period like Butler’s Rudi Johnson did.

Rudi was an all-purpose running back for the Grizzlies, who ran for nearly 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman in 1998, leading Butler to the NJCAA and Grid-Wire national championships that season. In the Real Dairy Bowl, which was the national championship game, Rudi rushed for 188 yards on 35 carries with a touchdown in the 22-18 win and collected the game’s MVP honors.

That freshman season was only a taste of what was to come in his sophomore year. In 1999, Rudi ran for a school-record 2,310 yards, making him only the second back in Butler history to cross the 2,000-yard threshold (Bruce Perkins ran for 2,146 in 1987). He averaged 185 yards rushing per game and an astonishing 7.3 yards per carry also piled up 31 touchdowns.

Johnson saved his best for the 1999 national championship game, which pitted No. 2 Butler against No. 1 Dixie College in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in St. George, Utah. Facing a defense that was allowing less than 50 yards rushing per game coming in, Johnson managed to amass 370 yards rushing on a whopping 49 carries, and scored all seven touchdowns in a 49-35 win. He was, obviously, named MVP of the bowl game for the second time in his career.

In addition to being named the national player of the year, Rudi was a unanimous first-team All-American, first-team All-Jayhawk Conference, Region VI Player of the Year and the Wichita Sports Commission Collegiate Male Athlete of the Year.

Rudi graduated from Butler and spent one year at Auburn, where he ran roughshod over SEC defenses, piling up 1,687 yards and 13 touchdowns, the sixth-best rushing total in the NCAA that year. He was a first-team All-SEC selection and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

After his junior season, Rudi declared for the NFL draft and was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 100th pick of the 2001 draft.. He spent eight years with that organization, rushing for nearly 6,000 yards in his career. He was a NFL Pro-Bowl selection in 2004 and a year later, led the Bengals to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Rudi’s last season in professional football was 2008, where he played out a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

In his retirement, Rudi continues his philanthropic pursuits, including the Rudi Johnson Foundation.


Austin Panter
Kensington, Kan.
University of Michigan

For Butler Community College (Kan.) sophomore linebacker Austin Panter what a difference a year makes. After a freshman season a year ago in which he played a limited role on the field, Panter (6-4, 240) has had a remarkable sophomore campaign. Already designated as the Region VI Defensive Player of the Year, Panter was named the prestigious NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year for 2006.

When told he had won the prestigious award, Panter was nearly in denial. ”Wow, winning this award is hard to believe. I had to take a deep breathe before I could take it all in,” Panter explained. “I was happy just to be named the Region VI defensive player of the year, but this is one of the greatest honors that you can receive…it’s pretty amazing.” Panter was also quick to credit his teammates, saying “this award is all because of the great defense that I had around me that helped me make plays.”

Prior to the 2006 season, Panter played in relative obscurity for the Grizzlies, primarily as a key contributor on special teams. However, the Grizzlies “Mike” linebacker played a major role for a 2006 Butler team that finished the season with an impressive 57-0 win over Vermilion (Minn.) in the Dalton Defenders Bowl to finish with an 11-1 overall record and a #3 NJCAA national ranking.

Panter worked extremely hard in Butler’s off-season weightlifting and conditioning program, adding nearly 20 pounds to his playing weight, and led the Grizzlies “Craz Dawgs” defense this season with 97 tackles, including 13 tackles for a loss. For Butler defensive coordinator Tim Schaffner, seeing Panter’s success on the field has been especially gratifying. “This award represents a lot of pride, because I know how hard Austin worked all year, all the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. I love seeing good things happen to good people,” said Schaffner.

According to Butler head coach Troy Morrell, Panter was certainly deserving of the award. “Austin is everything you want in a football player. He’s an extremely hard worker, he’s committed both on and off the field, and he’s certainly worthy of all the accolades he’s received this year,” Morrell said. “Austin’s a leader, a very unselfish player and a team player. He has tremendous character, and he’s a lot of fun to be around.”

Panter, who played 8-man football at Kensington High School (Kan.), went on to sign with the University of Michigan. He was the first two-year college transfer at Michigan in more than a decade, and finished his collegiate career playing two years for the Wolverines


Markus White
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Florida State University

Markus White says he is “blessed” to have played for the Butler Community College football team.

The Butler football team feels blessed to have White as one of its own after he spent the 2007 season wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. A transfer from Rutgers, White set a Butler school record and led the NJCAA with 25.5 quarterback sacks and also led the nation with six forced fumbles. He recorded 97 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss.

For his efforts, Markus was named the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year, as well as Region VI Defensive Player of the Year. White also earned first team NJCAA All-American, All-Jayhawk Conference and All-Region VI honors.
The honor marked two years in a row that a Grizzly player had won the award, as former Grizzly linebacker Austin Panter was the 2006 winner.

“It’s an honor that I greatly appreciate,” White said. “I couldn’t do any of it without this Butler team of 2007.”

White credited the Butler coaching staff for his development, especially legendary defensive line coach Steve Braet, who has three former players on NFL rosters and has coached 24 All-Americans.

“Markus is very deserving of the honor. He is one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had here at Butler and was a main player in the best defense we’ve ever had here,” Butler Coach Troy Morrell said of White. “His ability to play the run and rush the quarterback is outstanding. He could take over and dominate a game at any point. He’s got a tremendous work ethic and his character and attitude are the main reasons why he was able to excel on the football field.”

White finished his collegiate career at Florida State, where he was a two-year starter at defensive end on the right side. White posted career-highs for tackles (64), tackles for loss (12.5) and quarterback sacks (8) in his senior season. He was selected in the seventh round (224th overall pick) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. White currently is on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster entering the 2013 training camp.

“As long as I keep playing hard, and I never lose the motor I have, people tell me the sky is the limit,” White said. “I don’t plan on losing anything. I plan on increasing my size and my speed and my strength.”