To tell you about Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Baron Batch, I have to tell you a little about myself. In addition to being a certified NFL analyst extraordinaire, I am a musician. I have a close friend named Brian Batch who is also a musician – he is actually physically made of music … perhaps.
On the day his “little” brother Baron got drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers last April, we were onboard the VH1 Best Cruise Ever together performing with Alpha Rev. Baron was fishing with his old man in New Orleans, not knowing whether or not he would get a call in those last few rounds. I got the following text from Dwight Baker as we pulled into port in Cozumel: “BARON!!! STEELERS!!!” We flipped.
It was the perfect fit for a guy who got there by the least perfect (or maybe he would say most perfect) route possible. From the rough childhood to the injuries to not getting an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, the list goes on. The biggest run of his college career (and certainly the one that got the most attention from scouts) was chasing down Longhorn cornerback Curtis Brown (a 4.4 burner) from behind at a brutal pursuit angle to save his Texas Tech Red Raiders an interception-return touchdown. That’s kind of the way his story goes – but, the insight he has gained through his various trials, and his ability to communicate it is nothing short of miraculous.
Make sure and check out Baron’s blog. For real. He’s constantly doing things to help others - and right now is no different. Batch currently has a Twitter campaign where for every new follower he gets on Twitter he'll contribute 25 cents toward a fund for a couple adopting a child. Just because he's that kind of guy. Follow Batch on Twitter @baron_batch.
Baron tore his ACL in August before he could log a game in a Steelers uniform. He is currently running and resuming high-level physical activity. He will be ready to go for 2012, and the Steelers will put him to good use. Baron was identified and selected by Pittsburgh for a reason, and it is why I predicted that Baron would either be drafted by the Steelers or the Colts. (Before he worked out for either - yes I am a wizard.) Baron is a smart, fast-thinking runner with a natural understanding of advanced pass-blocking responsibility. Physically he is a prototypical NFL third-down back that reminds me of a younger Ahmad Bradshaw. A West Coast back with the added element of between-the-tackles acceleration to the second level and good hands. I thought the teams that would covet a skill set like Baron’s would be those that either ran, or wanted the ability to more effectively shift into the no-huddle offense. Given personnel, those were my two picks.
I recently had a chance to catch up with my boy B Batch to see what’s been going on in his world.
Austin Chronicle: You are in a rare group amongst NFL players. The small, elusive group of athletes whose sisters stand a legitimate shot at beating them in a fight. What are your thoughts on this?
Baron Batch: Ha ha. Yeah, my older sister Bridgette [Batch] is definitely scrappy when it comes to fighting, but I refuse to believe that she would beat me up! However, in the past when I was smaller she for sure won some fights. Bridgette is an MMA fighter in Vegas and for sure can hold her own against some guys. I'm proud of her and am always so crazy when I see her fights, it's pretty intense.
AC: I know you aren't an avid football watcher recreationally, which to me has always seemed so crazy. But like I have always told [your brother] Brian - I think it means you just see the thing differently. Like a mindset of execution and actual gameplay vs. entertainment at the resulting performance. Whenever you watch film, and you're prepping for an opposing defense through the eyes of a running back, what do you key on and look for?
BB: Yeah, since I've been playing football I've never really watched it recreationally on TV. I think that's mainly because it keeps me passionate about it when I'm immersed in it, and by not watching it all the time I don't get burnt out. That's just something that I have learned that works well for me, I'm sure some guys love watching as much football as they can whether they play or not. It's also hard so for me to watch a game around people that have never played and don't know what's going on, ha ha. And unfortunately that's usually the case when football is on. Most of the time when I'm watching football though it's breaking down film and scouting an opponent. There are several things that you focus on when watching film of an opponent. First off I always check the personnel and study what base fronts a team likes to run in certain situations and their tendencies. Also it's important to learn linebackers tendencies when blitzing and study their pass-rush moves. Another important thing I look for on film is how different teams fill gaps in the run game so I can get a good idea of where certain run plays will develop and hit.
AC: You had a couple of big blitz pick-ups against James Harrison in the preseason that camp was buzzing about. As a hypothetical, is it safe to say that if Harrison ran into me with the same speed and power in full pads (and I had no pads on, just plain clothes) that I would likely die?
BB: If you had to pick up James on a one-on-one pass rush … yes … you would die.
AC: Are you better at bowling than Rashard Mendenhall is at dancing?
BB: Hmmm, the competitor in me says yes. I just got done bowling with one of the guys on the team and bowled eight straight games over 200 and averaged 220. It was the best I've bowled in a while.
AC: Tell me about Haiti.
BB: Haiti is an amazing place full of amazing people that I had the opportunity to visit on a mission trip about a year ago and will be going back in a few months. Honestly I could talk about Haiti all day, so if you want to know exactly what work I am involved with in Haiti you can visit my nonprofit's Web page called 2ndhandimages.com.
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