|by Nikki Hood|
Not many people have forgotten the incident at N.C. State last year when the New York native punched Wolfpack defensive back Jarvis Byrd, but it was during the weeks leading up to Battle’s first start at Georgia Tech that he learned to listen to and learn from older teammates like Brandon Thomas.
Battle told the media at the end of spring practice that last year was challenge, but he learned to lean on his teammates and become a better teammate at the same time.
“It was hard,” Battle said recently. “I was in the doghouse a little bit. I had to fight through it. I had to listen to my teammates about my role when I wasn’t able to play in the game. I had to get behind Joe (Gore) or Shaq (Anthony) and lead them and carry them. Sometimes they had to get behind me when my attitude got the best of me. That’s how we got better.”
It was Thomas that first got through to Battle and taught him how to grow both on and off the field.
“He talked to me off the field and taught me right from wrong and what’s the best way to go about things,” Battle said “The yes sir. Just being a humble person. When you listen, there is more to come and you learn things that you never learned before.”
With holes on the offensive line left by the departures of Thomas and Tyler Shatley, it’s Battle’s turn impart wisdom on the young guys that now comprise the o-line.
“Following BT and all of the veterans, we lost some good people,” Battle said. “Great athletes. Strong guys. We’re trying to get there this year. I’m trying to become a leader and take these younger guys under my wing and tell them what you want to do and the best way to do things. I tell them all of the time [how to do things on and off the field]. They get better at it. I was a little hard headed, but they listen.”
Building continuity along the line isn’t done in a day, but Battle said the spring was a good start. However, most of the work will be done during summer workouts, film study and team bonding opportunities.
“There are a lot of young guys that are out there that haven’t been in a game,” Battle said. “There were a lot of veterans that left the o-line. We are trying to find that glue to make us stick together. We’re trying to find that leadership. We’ve got young guys stepping up. The summer will be something to watch.”
Nikki Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org