published Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Arkansas signs Baylor’s Butler

Teni Butler admitted that she was “terrified” being thrust into the starting soccer lineup from day one as an eighth-grader at Baylor. Five years later, she should enter her next school with more confidence.

The senior defender recently signed scholarship papers to continue her soccer career at Arkansas in the fall.

Four teammates followed through on previously reported commitments, McKenzie Thomas signing with Samford, Paige Elliott with Lehigh, Kelly Pannell with Western Carolina and Chloe Brackett with Pittsburgh.

Thomas’s twin sister, Peyton, is choosing between a couple of Southeastern Conference offers.

Butler, a five-year starter at center back, was a three-time Division II-AA all-state selection and a member of the past two state-championship teams.

“Arkansas really wasn’t on my radar,” she said. “We had played in the Disney soccer tournament over the holidays, and the coach was there and showed interest. I really liked the campus, the coach and the enthusiasm around the program, so I’m excited about the opportunity.”

Throughout the process, Butler wasn’t sure where she would end up, but she did know she wanted the opportunity to play collegiately.

“I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she said, noting she has decided to go into chemical engineering. “I like that I’m going to be on a larger campus, and the additional resources will be a great thing for me. It’ll be different because I’m going to a big school, as opposed to Baylor where you know everybody in your class.”

Now, after a couple of titles and an 84-win high school career, Butler is taking the next step.

“I’m proud of all of the accomplishments, not just that we won,” she said. “I had great coaches in Jimmy [Weekley] and Curtis [Blair]. I thought we had a great time as a team, and I was an OK leader. I grew from a player that was stuck into the lineup because I was needed and fit into that role at that position.

“I’ve been given an opportunity at the next level, and my hope is that I can grow into a better soccer player.”

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