Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone in the past decade or so, since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. Still, the talent level across the board on the national level has been about as good as it gets.
Things don’t figure to change anytime soon, either. That said, the hype is building for a pair of games this year: The first is on Dec. 20 at AT&T Stadium and home of the Dallas Cowboys. The second is on Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium and home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To gain a better understanding about the rapidly growing direction of things, perhaps it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward, the plan is to more closely examine the brand’s many alumni from all over the country.
John Battle is the topic of conversation, likely a familiar to name to many. Not long ago, remember, the high-profile prospect in the Class of 2014 from Hallandale (FL) delivered in a 47-44 double overtime victory for the South over the North during the game in Florida.
Nowadays, with the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl taking up well-deserved space on his resume, the 6-foot-1 and 194-pound sophomore safety for LSU continues to make a mark and hopes to do so on Sept. 19 against Auburn in an SEC game at 8 p.m. (EST).
“When we had him our game, Battle was rangy, covered a lot of ground, hit people, and made big plays all over the field. It was a pleasure working with him in that kind of environment,” said NFL veteran and Blue-Grey All-American Bowl coach Mark McMillian.
“He’s going to be a lock down player in the secondary at LSU. You know that’s a good program, one who produces some of the country’s top players at the position, a few have gone to the NFL in the past couple of years. Keep your eye on this young man.”
Battle saw the field, albeit briefly, as a freshman for the Tigers, mostly on special teams. Rookies on the college scene, after all, typically get their feet wet in that facet of the game. Some take advantage of the all-important opportunity. Others don’t. He did.
Considerably more experienced today, seemingly with the trust of the powers that be in Baton Rouge (LA), don’t be surprised to see the coaching staff for LSU use Battle on a regular basis this season in the secondary. Particularly in nickel and dime packages.
“Battle was a hard-nosed player, fearless, with some great instincts and acceleration to the ball, that’s back when we had him,” said NFL veteran and All-American Bowl coach Ken Stills. “LSU made a great choice and has a player to be reckoned with.”
How much he contributes remains to be seen. The buzz surrounding Battle, however, is undeniable. Given his track record, especially in our presence against the nation’s best on the prep circuit, the future is bright for this alum of the brand’s All-American Bowl.