Photo By Steven Chapman

Critical 20: No. 17 Cameron Batson

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent for any reason.

Cameron Batson is the perfect example of the Critical 20 series not directly mirroring talent or past performance. Because, based strictly upon talent, inside receiver Batson would probably be pushing for a top 10 position in this list; instead, he ranks No. 17. 

The chief reason Batson doesn’t slot higher is Texas Tech’s mind-blowing depth at receiver. There are, of course, four receiver positions in Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme. And competing for playing time and starting honors at those positions are no less than 13 prime candidates, and that doesn’t include incoming freshmen. The Red Raiders are no less than three deep with quality at every receiver position.

Still, there is every reason to believe Batson will be one of those starters for the majority of games in 2016. Despite the presence of a certain Jakeem Grant, Batson did start two games last season, catching 29 balls for 327 yards and one touchdown while averaging 11 yards per grab. 

 Additionally, indications are that Batson had the proverbial “breakout” spring camp. After the Petro Scrimmage in which Batson caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, Kliff Kingsbury asserted, “He has had an exceptional spring and is another guy who has been waiting in the wings because he had an incredible player in front of him.”

That incredible player now earns his dime with the Miami Dolphins, but Jakeem Grant punching a different time clock doesn’t mean the competition will not be intense at inside receiver. Ian Sadler is the presumptive starter at the other inside position, but both Batson and Sadler will be challenged by Devin Lauderdale, a sometimes star who has returned from suspension and will get a look inside during fall camp. Sophomores Keke Coutee and John Giles, along with redshirt freshman Quan Shorts also have the potential to play inside and play well. 

Regardless of how playing time is divvied up at inside receiver, Batson’s worth is compounded by his work on special teams. He was Tech’s primary punt returner last season, returning 13 punts for 81 yards. (It is an index of Tech’s defensive woes that foes were forced to punt only 14 times the entire season!) Batson is a sure-handed returner who appears to be capable of doing real damage if given enough opportunities. Hopefully, he will get considerably more chances in 2016.

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