Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sports

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."

Comments
D’Ernest Johnson hopes to showcase versatility at East-West Shrine Game

D’Ernest Johnson hopes to showcase versatility at East-West Shrine Game

On a cloudless, brisk St. Petersburg afternoon, D'Ernest Johnson lined up deep in the backfield, darted to the right flat and snagged a short Riley Ferguson pass.Within a matter of minutes, he snagged another. Suddenly, it was 2016 all over again for...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight    Ted Williams museum inductions

Tony Perez, Dick Allen to highlight Ted Williams museum inductions

Hall of Famer Tony Perez and longtime Phillies/White Sox star Dick Allen will be inducted into the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame next month in Clearwater.Former Yankees Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry and longtime Astros ace J.R. Richard also wi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Warriors keep Cavaliers reeling

Warriors keep Cavaliers reeling

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant scored 32, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Warriors won their 13th straight road game with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes. Durant scored 16 in the...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Kerber continues to play well

Kerber continues to play well

MELBOURNE, Australia — Former champion Angelique Kerber continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 win over fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam to reach the second round of the Australian Open early today. Kerber raced through the first set in 17 minut...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Seguin sends Stars past Bruins in OT

Seguin sends Stars past Bruins in OT

BOSTON — Former Bruins first-round draft pick Tyler Seguin, hearing it from his old fans, scored on a delayed penalty in overtime to lead the Stars to a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday. Boston rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime and earn a...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hillsborough TE/LS Wilson Morse this year’s Bill Minahan scholarship recipient

Hillsborough TE/LS Wilson Morse this year’s Bill Minahan scholarship recipient

TAMPA — The fourth annual pick for the Bill Minahan Award was a tough choice indeed.It came down to five Hillsborough County football players — Hillsborough's Wilson Morse, Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere, Gaither's Camden Roth, Stei...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWisconsin at Purdue7 p.m.ESPNLouisville at Notre Dame7 p.m.ESPN2Georgia at LSU7 p.m.ESPNUVanderbilt at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECClemson at North Carolina7 p.m.Fox SunCincinnati at UCF7 p.m.CBSSNWomen: Michigan at Ohio State7 p...
Updated: 9 hours ago

MAKING NEWSMCCUTCHEN JOINS LONGO IN SAN FRANCISCOAfter acquiring 3B Evan Longoria from the Rays, the Giants deal for another franchise face, getting Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen. 6CVikings’ kneel helps Saints coverVikings fans were celebrating, but in...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Sports in brief

BASEBALLGIANTS ACQUIRE PIRATES STAR MCCUTCHENSAN FRANCISCO — The Giants found the outfielder they were looking for this winter, acquiring Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday less than a month after dealing for Rays longtime 3B Evan Longoria. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago