Batoon 'Blessed'

Corey Batoon has been on Hugh Freeze's staff since the Arkansas State days, but it wasn't until Tom Allen moved to South Florida as the DC for the Bulls that Batoon got his own position(s) to work with and gained the status of "full-time" assistant coach.

Batoon's promotion, plus the players he has to work with in his first season in his new post make him, in his word, "blessed."

"To be in a program like this that Coach Freeze has built the way he has is a real blessing," Batoon said, "and couple that with the players I have been blessed to coach, I couldn't be more comfortable.

"Certainly, you always put pressure on yourself to deliver for the coach and the school that believed in you enough to give you the opportunity, but I couldn't be more thrilled and, as I said, blessed."

Corey, who will double as the Special Teams Coordinator as well, is handling the safeties and the Husky slot that will be manned by four-year starter Mike Hilton at Rover, four-year starter Trae Elston at Free Safety and three-year starter Tony Conner at Husky.

"Just roll the ball out, right, and let them go," he laughed. "Those guys have been playing since they first stepped on campus. There's a lot of experience there and they are all smart and coachable."

But there have been adjustments for two of the three. Hilton and Elston are playing "new" positions this year.

"There's some new teaching going on for them, but they catch on quickly. It's not an issue, really, but it's something we are working through to make sure everything is natural to them before the season starts," Corey continued. "Probably what I'm most excited about, though, is that we are really close to having a true two-deep in my room.

"I think the twins (C.J. and A.J. Moore), C.J. (Hampton) and a veteran glue guy who can play all three positions in Chief Brown who are all really close to being guys who will demand reps due to their spring productivity. There will be great competition in our room and at the same time there is great chemistry where everyone is trying to help everyone else."

Hampton may be the one who has improved the most and one of the reasons is a body transformation, according to Batoon.

"During bowl prep, he started playing faster and understanding things. Also, he was around 200-205 pounds last year, but we wanted him to lose weight. He's now at 185 and is more explosive and faster, but also just as strong," Corey explained. "It's really helped his game to lose the weight. He's really cutting it loose now and will be hard to keep off the field.

"The twins are also doing real well. They aren't having to think any more and so they are playing faster and their athleticism is showing up."

Batoon is also excited about the newcomers - Armani Linton, Zedrick Woods and Montrell Custis.

"Custis can also play corner, but I'm going to get him to start with. From a developmental standpoint, Zedrick is probably the furthest along. He's pound for pound in the Top 10 on the team in size-speed-power ratio already," Batoon noted. "He was a top powerlifter in Florida last year. I think he's a Husky/Rover guy, very much in the mold of Tony Conner.

"Zedrick is the type of athlete we are trying to recruit now - a multi-faceted player who can play in the box or cover a wideout or play multiple positions, like Tony."

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