Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl over the past decade, or so. 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 continues to build for this year’s games: Dec. 20 at Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium, Jan. 9 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and Jan. 16 at Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field.
To gain a better of understanding about the rapidly growing direction of the brand, perhaps it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward on a weekly basis, the plan is to examine alumni of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.
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 victory for the South over the North during the game in Florida.
Nowadays, with the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl taking up space on his resume, the 6-foot-1 and 194-pound sophomore safety continues to make a mark. This time around, it’s at LSU. That’s right, Battle is doing his thing against the nation’s best in the SEC.
“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 Blue-Grey 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 Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.