However, according to Batiste, his performance was not up to his own expectations as the Panthers went 0-12.
Now a redshirt junior and defensive captain, Batiste is moving back to the position he played at Cass, safety, and feels much more confident about the upcoming season, beginning Friday with Georgia State’s first practice.
“Just pay attention,” Batiste said when asked why the 2014 season would be different than 2013. “We had a lot of guys who graduated. There were a couple knuckleheads and we wiped them out. We got a whole new bunch of guys this year on offense and defense and we’re very excited.
“I’m back to where I know that I’m best at [safety]. I’m back to where I’m hungry again and I’m starting to love the game again. My body size fits that position, so I’m ready. I think I’m just a natural-born leader. Safety is basically the quarterback of the defense and that kind of fits me.”
Batiste was one of the few bright spots on a disappointing team last season. After redshirting at Indiana State in 2011, Batiste played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and collected 24 tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass breakup and one forced fumble for the Sycamores. He then followed his head coach, Trent Miles, to Georgia State. As a member of the Panthers, in addition to his tackle total, Batiste contributed an interception, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.
Batiste attributes the strong production to returning back home to the state of Georgia.
“It was a blessing. I was surprised, but it worked out in my favor,” he said of Miles taking the head coaching position and leading Batiste to Georgia State. “I just feel like I’m back at home. I’m back at the school for a second year, being with a couple of guys who I played against in high school. A couple of them are on the team as well.”
Batiste came back home last year to his home state, but he also feels more at home at safety where he had 88 tackles while playing the position his senior season at Cass.
“At linebacker, it didn’t go very well,” Batiste said. “I’m kind of a stickler for my craft, so I stay on myself for certain stuff. I wasn’t happy about it. I could have played a little harder each game. Everybody felt that way. I felt like last year, I was just doing it just to do it, and now that I’m back at safety I’m enjoying it, I love where I’m at, I love calling the defense, I love being defensive captain.
“I’m back to being me, man.”
Well regarded as a team leader, Batiste will look to contribute as a captain and develop better chemistry among the team.
“My personal goal is I just want to be a better teammate. I want to be a better player, of course, and I want to be a better student of the game. If you can do those three, performance is going to come,” Batiste said. “As far as team goals, we want to win each game, go 1-0 every week, get close together as a team and just compete every week and get better. We’re a lot closer of a brotherhood this year, a lot closer friends.”
Batiste’s succes at the collegiate level comes as little surprise to most Cass fans. In addition to his defensive prowess, Batiste scored 17 touchdowns in all, including 14 as a pass receiver and two while returning punts at Cass.
He added 61 receptions for 821 yards in his three years as a starter.
“My Cass career, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed my coaching,” Batiste said. “They taught me not just to love football, but to become a better guy as well and that’s what I liked about them. They didn’t just use you for your four years and let you go. They helped me and they worked with me each year, not just in the weight room and on the field, but in school as well.”