From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

The straight skinny from a recruiting guru

Audio: Brian Bailey Show
The Brian Bailey Show airs on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. This week's guest was college football recruiting expert Sammy Batten: Replay show...

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By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

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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, recently won 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 interest in.

“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 history.

“That’s a great story and shows you how crazy recruiting is,” Batten said.

That it is. The National Signing Day is set for a week from Wednesday.


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01/28/2014 04:20 AM