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Danielle Maddox

Freshman cornerback Jordan Batiste from Lutcher High School (La.) made an early start on and off the field when he enrolled at Tulane last January and became a starter during spring practice. Batiste has joined other skilled incoming freshman corners to form a talented class of prospects.

“The thing about the freshman class is that they are skilled,” head coach Curtis Johnson said. “I think those defensive backs are something else, now. They can run. We did a great job in about two weeks of picking up the best and most athletic guys we could find. There are some athletes in the class.”

Batiste came in as a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, and was ranked the 29th prospect in the state by 247Sports.com. As a senior, he recorded 122 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions and returned 13 kickoffs for 224 yards.

“Jordan Batiste was probably the star of last spring,” Johnson said.

Batiste said the game just started to click.

“As the days went on I just got more comfortable with the game,” Batiste said. “It slowed down for me, and I began to make plays.”

Originally an Ole Miss commitment, Batiste followed the new coaching staff to Tulane. He said Lionel Washington’s role as co-defensive coordinator and Lutcher alumnus influenced his decision to play for the Green Wave.

“It really helped,” Batiste said. “I know I can trust him with any questions I have. He would never tell me wrong, and he has coached some of the best.”

Batiste’s decision to enroll in January gave him a chance to bond with the team early on, and he quickly gained respect from his peers through his talent.

“He’s a really great cornerback,” senior cornerback Ryan Travis said. “He has a lot of skills and is really athletic. He has great ball skills. He’s been shutting down a lot of guys in fall camp so far. I’m helping him a lot in the corner, and then [Smith] Shakiel is helping him out in the back.”

After first-string senior cornerback Jordan Sullen’s dismissal from the team in spring training, Travis said Batiste’s impact was important.

“It was big on his part,” Travis said. “There was a lot of pressure on him, and he’s done a great job so far.”

Batiste said he is normally quiet but breaks out of his shell on the field.

“Being on the field, that’s my comfort zone,” Batiste said. “Anything I have on my mind, I can just let it go on the field and do my thing.”

The expectations are high for this incoming freshman class. Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin, whom Batiste picked off for a touchdown during the Green Wave’s spring game, said he is already impressed.

“Just having this freshman class with Jordan [Batiste], [Lorenzo] Doss, we’ve got Kedrick Banks,” Griffin said. “We’ve got a lot of really, really skilled guys. You see it right away going into one on ones how much of an impact these freshman DBs have made. They’re tough to throw against already.”

Batiste’s first-team position exemplifies Johnson’s plan to field the best players immediately.

“I think playing freshmen is good,” Johnson said. “I think it’s the best thing you can do. You play the best players, whether they are freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors … It’s no different than rookies in the NFL. They’re freshmen football players, and you’ve got to play them. You’ve got to play the best guys.”

Batiste proved himself in spring practice to reach that level.

“I felt as if I worked hard and did what I knew I could do, I would get to play,” Batiste said.