When asked about sophomore receiver Cameron Batson's progress following practice Thursday, a usually reserved Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury gushed about the sophomore's improvement from a season ago.
"From last fall to now it's day and night I'd say," Kingsbury said. "He's becoming more of a receiver. He came in as a quarterback/punt returner and now he's learning the nuances. He's blocking a lot better, he's catching the ball better so I have been proud of the way he's handled it."
Kingsbury isn't the only coach to dish out praise about Batson. Offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach Eric Morris told RaiderPower.com earlier this week Batson is pushing senior standout Jakeem Grant for playing time at inside receiver.
"Cam and Jakeem are competing against one another every day so we'll see who starts there," Morris said. "You know it's still open which one's going to go. You'll see both of them throughout the year, but they are fighting each other off. It's been fun to watch. They haven't been complacent at all and they truly know that the best man is going to play and it will be fun to see how it shakes out."
In addition to challenging one of the Red Raiders' most accomplished returning veterans at inside receiver, Batson is expected to reprise his role as the primary punt returner. Though his numbers (3.6 yards per return) were unimpressive, Batson was a sure handed player on a otherwise mostly shaky team in 2014.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that punt returning is one of the hardest things to do, not only in college football, but the National Football League as well," said Texas Tech special teams coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. "What Cam Batson was able to come in and do as a true freshman, to come in here take care of the football, and not make bad decisions, that is key in college football. So, he will be better."
Batson added another role to his resume this offseason as he is the primary holder on field goals and extra point attempts. Both Kingsbury and Chiaverini said he was an easy choice due to his hands, poise, smarts and experience as a quarterback back at Oklahoma Millwood High School, where he was also Valedictorian.
So what does Batson, who also said he has a 4.0 grade point average at Tech right now, think of the special teamss responsibilities?
"It's a lot of fun. I always love to be a punt returner," said Batson after practice Thursday. "I always say you have to be a little crazy to go out there, you know you have all those guys flying down on you. Then holder is a new position for me kind of sort of. In high school I did field goals so going out there and getting a hold is a lot of fun."
As far as the praise he has received at receiver, Batson was quick to give the Texas Tech strength and conditioning program a lot of the credit as well as simply being more familiar with the offense.
"I feel a lot faster with coach [Steve] Dennis in the strength and conditioning program, I feel like they have helped me out a lot with better conditioning," Batson said. "I feel like I play a lot faster than last year, because last year sometimes I knew the play or I would be hesitant on things. Overall, being able to be in that playbook a lot more and get things clicking has helped me play a lot faster than last year."