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Recruiting: Dunedin back Tramaine Batten grows his confidence and his offer list

Tramaine Batten spent his first year in big school playing little league football.

He spent his second blocking for seniors.

He spent his third bursting onto the scene at Dunedin.

His fourth?

"I just can't wait," Batten said. "Senior season, I'm going all out."

Batten developed into one of Tampa Bay's top running backs last season. A 5-foot-10, 190-pound back with 4.6 speed and a nose for contact, Batten ran for 1,194 yards and 10 touchdowns, and had another three touchdowns on receptions.

Friday, Florida came by to take a look at Batten and rising junior linebacker Brenton Allen.

Batten may be too small a fit for the Gators offense, but Batten was thrilled they expressed interest.

"If he keeps progressing like he is, I think he's a BCS player," second-year head coach Max Smith said. "The offers are going to come."

On Feb. 23, a date Batten has memorized, he got his first offer, from Toledo. He has received another, from Massachusetts.

"I was shocked when Toledo offered," Batten said. "I was like, 'Me? Tramaine Batten?' I was kind of doubting myself. But now I want more offers, I want to prove myself."

Batten has lacked for confidence in the past. He grew frustrated with his lack of touches his sophomore season and had a so-so spring last year. He went into the fall of 2011 thinking he might be a 500-yard back.

"When I originally saw him in the spring, I thought he could be the guy," Smith said. "Then in the spring game, he didn't play real well. Shaquille Dixon (Dunedin's other back) actually outplayed him."

But Batten never stopped working out. He spent the summer getting stronger and faster. Smith said Batten is one of his team's fiercest players in the weight room, and his competitiveness is what separates him from the others.

He was pedestrian in the pre-season classic last fall, but the regular season was a different story.

He opened the season with a touchdown catch against Tarpon Springs. He had a 90-yard touchdown run the next week against Robinson, three touchdowns against Middleton and Lennard, and emerged as the Falcons' No. 1 option.

"He had one long run, a great run against Tarpon where he broke a couple of tackles and trucked this one guy in the open field and kept going," Smith said. "I think he finally realized how good he could be. He's so physical for how small he is, but he actually looks for contact. He's a legit 4.6 kid, not a flat-out flier, but he hasn't been caught yet."

After the season, Smith called Matt Campbell, Toledo's new head coach, and tried to convince him Batten was worth a look and the perfect fit for the Rockets' spread offense.

Smith had played for Campbell (and with receivers coach Jason Candle) when the three were at Mount Union.

"He kind of put off watching his film. Finally he watches it and texts me like, 'Max, this is kid is freaking awesome.' "

Batten is now part of a strong running attack that Smith hopes pushes the Falcons into the district title mix. That is a tall order, considering Dunedin has to play Gibbs, Lakewood, Robinson and Jesuit, a group with at least 35 college prospects between them.

But a confident Batten is ready to lift himself, and his team, to the next level.

"Coach said my time will come," Batten said. "I plan on playing my hardest to make it happen."

Recruiting: Dunedin back Tramaine Batten grows his confidence and his offer list 05/05/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 5, 2012 7:29pm]
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