January 21, 2008

Battle facing tough choice after visit

Ole Miss assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn stood in the press box of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, marveling at the commitment he just picked up.

One of Vaughn's young daughters paired with three-star Khiry Battle's young sister, and the two laughed and played.

Vaughn had gotten though to one Battle. Now, his sights were shifted.

"He told me, 'We got one of them. Now, we need to get you," Battle said.

Battle, his mother and his sister all enjoyed their trip to Oxford for an official visit. But in all fairness, Battle's little sister isn't too hard of a sell.

"My sister, she's only four," he said. "You just have to give plenty of ice cream and she's fine."

Battle, a safety from Dacula, Ga., is in a little tougher situation. Battle committed to Arkansas back in July, and know that Vaughn, head coach Houston Nutt and other staff members are in Oxford, the situation's a little awkward.

"It was very weird," Battle said. "This is the staff I committed to at Arkansas. It was good to see those guys again."

Meeting with Nutt, Battle said he had to remind himself just where he was.

"I met with Coach Nutt in his office, and all I could think is, 'Why is he wearing that? 'Where's the Razorback on his shirt?'" Battle joked. "They're trying to get used to it too. It's just as new to them as it is to me."

Battle said his meeting with Nutt went very well, and the new Ole Miss head coach made it clear that he wanted Battle in Oxford come fall. However, he didn't press too hard.

"He was saying that he's coming to get me. Since I committed to him at Arkansas, he wants me to come with him," Battle said. "He told me it wasn't about bricks and water when it comes to schools. Everyone has great facilities. He told me it comes down to people.

"He told me he wasn't looking for a commitment right now, go home and pray about it. (He said to) take my visits to Arkansas and wherever else and compare the people."

Battle also expressed an interest to play some running back, which Nutt said would be fine by him.

"They're going to recruit me as an athlete and give me the chance to compete at running back and safety. I told him I wanted to try offense also," Battle said. " He said it wasn't a problem.

"Those guys haven't lied to me yet; so, I believe that I'll have an opportunity. That's a big plus."

Battle will take an official visit to Arkansas next weekend, likely ending his recruitment soon after.

Whatever decision he makes, his visit to Oxford gave him plenty to think about. In fact, Battle said, it'd been easier if the trip wouldn't have gone well.

"Then, I could've eliminated one," he said.

But it did go well.

Battle quickly warmed to Ole Miss during his visit. Battle, who has aspirations of a career in law, left Oxford impressed with Nutt's commitment to academics.

"We went on an unofficial visit this past summer. We always felt Ole Miss had the best academic support," Battle said. "It was good see Coach Nutt and the staff kept that in line. Their academics and their law program are just top notch. That's a plus."

Ole Miss' facilities as a whole really stood out.

"Everything's top of the line. It's what you would come to expect from an SEC school, but really, that's not the case," he said. "Ole Miss is definitely top notch when it comes to facilities academically with the FedEx Center and athletically with the stadium, Indoor Practice Facility, weight room and all of that."

Ole Miss safety Fonterrian Ingram hosted Battle on his visit, and the 5-foot-11, 203-pound prospect enjoyed a laid-back weekend.

"The first night, I stayed in and slept. I caught up on some rest," he said. "The second night, we just had an NCAA Football tournament (on Playstation)."

And led by commit Brandon Sanders, plenty of other visitors tried to get into Battle's ear - excited about the direction of things with Nutt at the helm.

One of the newest Rebel commits,
defensive end Justin Smith from Chattahoochee H.S. in Alpharetta, Ga., also got in the act.

"They had all the Georgia guys hanging around. They were trying to get me, asking me ' Are you coming? Come on. Come on,'" Battle said. "Brandon kept saying that I need to come play safety so we have a Georgia secondary. It was nice to get to know those guys and know people from around the corner will be going to school there.

"They all looked at the coaching change as a positive."

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