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I have always had the utmost amount of respect for sportswriters.
I grew up reading the sports pages and really thought about getting into
that aspect of the business if the sportscasting job didn’t work out.
Through the years I have had the chance to meet hundreds of
sportswriters from up and down the east coast. One of the best hails
from Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Fayetteville Observer sports writer Sammy Batten is one of the good guys
in our industry. Sammy, who also reports on recruiting for Bonesville,
his third North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year Award. He is the
type of guy I would like to hang out with more. Our paths cross several
times during the football season, but quickly we continue on with our
separate journeys in life.
Each year one of the highlights of my radio show on Pirate Radio 1250
and 930 is my annual visit via phone with Sammy to talk about football
recruiting from the East Carolina point of view.
I don’t know anyone else that not only knows football recruiting, but
that also has the respect of his peers and the different coaches from
all of the schools that he gets a chance to cover.
I admit that recruiting is not my strong point. That’s why I call on the
expertise of a guy like Sammy Batten.
Covering recruiting has certainly changed over the years. Batten
reflected on that aspect of his job in our Monday night show. [Replay
audio archive file from Pirate Radio 1250...]
“When I got started in the early ‘90s, I was asked to rank the in-state
schools in recruiting,” Batten said. “There were recruiting magazines
that evolved into 900 phone numbers. The Internet really moved things
along with web sites that dealt year round with recruiting in all
sports. Those sites are able to spend all of their time on recruiting.”
Batten says he isn’t as fortunate. There are many other things to cover
in his job. Still, recruiting is one of the things he enjoys most.
“I try to take it a step further,” he explained. “Others may get the
information out there faster, but I think I can get with the recruit and
tell his story. I try to get into their personalities and let fans know
what kind of player their school is getting.”
Sammy told our radio audience that he really likes this recruiting
class. He says there are still some question marks, and that the Pirates
have to keep several verbal commitments that other schools are showing
“The beauty of this class is that the Pirates can afford to bring most
of these guys in and redshirt them,” Batten explained. “Ruffin McNeill
and this staff don’t need guys to come in and play right away. That
wasn’t the case when this staff first arrived.”
Batten says a couple in this class could come in and help right away,
but it’s nice that there isn’t that need for a player to come in and
produce. The one guy that could come in and help out immediately is wide
receiver Curtis Burston from Middle Creek.
“He is a very physical type of receiver,” said Batten. “He has already
enrolled and will certainly benefit by getting in early.”
Batten sees the running back position as the key to this class. The
Pirates are still very much in the running for Anthony Scott from Green
Run High School in Virginia Beach and Hyleck Foster from Gaffney High
School in South Carolina.
“With the loss of Vintavious Cooper, that running back slot is a real
key,” Batten said. “Scott has been getting late interest from Virginia
Tech but I think he’ll end up a Pirate.”
Much can happen during this last week and a half of recruiting.
It’s certainly not an exact science. Just ask Pirate wide receiver
Justin Hardy, who was completely off the radar during recruiting but who
will go down as the all-time best receiver in East Carolina football
“That’s a great story and shows you how crazy recruiting is,” Batten
That it is. The National Signing Day is set for a week from Wednesday.