James Butler sacrificed the present for what he hopes is a better future. It cost him his junior season of high school football.
The Class of 2014 running back transferred from Bartlett High to St. Francis last summer. Illinois High School Association rules stated that he had to sit out a calendar year of competition.
"Some players are allowed to play right away due to personal reasons, but I couldn't," said Butler, who moved in with his aunt to attend St. Francis. "It was up to me whether I wanted to go back to (Bartlett) and play my junior year.
"I decided to stay with the private school. I thought it would be better for my future for educational reasons."
Butler practiced with St. Francis this fall, but couldn't dress for games. He stood on the sidelines and cheered for his new teammates.
"The whole culture around the school is what I wanted," he said. "I was still part of the team. I was voted to be a captain for my senior year and I didn't even play this year."
Butler was making a name for himself at Bartlett. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound ball carrier earned all-area and all-conference honors as a sophomore. Missing this year stunted his recruiting.
"I know it will set me back a lot, but after talking with my family and the people around me, I know the schools will find me," he said. "I'm going to have to be a lot more patient than others. I see other guys getting offers, but I need to be patient."
Schools like Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Cincinnati and Wisconsin have told Butler that they'll need to see game film from his senior year before potentially offering a scholarship. He visited all of those programs this fall, including the Bearcats on Friday.
"The Iowa coaches are friends with my head coach, Greg Purnell, because he used to coach in Iowa," Butler said. "I was talking to Coach (Lester) Erb. He said he understood my situation.
"He said they would be waiting for my first three games to see how I do. He said he knows I'm off the map right now. He said if I have a big impact in my first few games, I will be right up there again."
"I want to do a lot of camps and combines," Butler said.
Butler has a few friends who attend Iowa. He said he has visited the school on a number of occasions.
"Iowa fans are like no other," he said. "They're at the top of my list."
Butler feels like he offers a lot to programs on the next level.
"I feel like I can be a power back but I can also make moves," he said. "I feel like I'm a pretty balanced back. I love catching the ball. I don't like to be one dimensional."