Another standout player from the Bartow High School football program will be taking his talents to the college ranks. Defensive back Jonathan Battle has signed a letter, giving him a full ride at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri.
“This is an excellent opportunity for a young man who has done so much on the field and off the field,” said Brett Biggs, who coached Battle while the two were with the Bartow program. He has had great direction in his life and has been blessed with a great family to support him.”
Many of the family members were on hand to witness the moment. Joining Jonathan at the table were his mother Deatrel Robinson, stepfather Leonardo Biggins, brothers Anthony Biggins and Malik Biggins, his aunt and his grandfather. Well over 200 Bartow High School students gathered to wish the popular player well.
“This has to be one of the most deserving young men to get this opportunity,” said defensive backs coach Kenny Strong. “He was the first in and the last out in the weight room. He was always asking to watch more film. He was even coming to my classes to ask questions. He never quit and his hard work is paying off.”
“I am really proud of my brother,” said Malik Biggins, who played alongside Jonathan in the 2012 season. “I hope we can play together again some day.”
Biggs reiterated the value of this opportunity, reminding the students of the impact of the signing.
“This is a full ride for his education. He won’t have to pay a dime for his college education. This is the course you want to follow, so pay attention. This is what hard work can get for you.”
Missouri Valley College has a long-standing football tradition. The Vikings are nationally recognized as one of the oldest and most successful small college programs in the country. As members of the National Association of Intercollegiate athletics, Missouri Valley is consistently ranked in the top 25 and has enjoyed the honor of being the top-ranked team in the nation. They finished last year ranked #3 and the April coaches poll listed the Vikings as projected #3 in 2013. They hold the distinction of leading the NAIA in all-time football wins.
Battle began playing football in the sixth grade.
“At first, I was a wide receiver, but when I got to high school, I wanted to hit so I switched to defensive back,” he said.
The move served him well as many of his talents come to the fore quickly. From his position in the defensive backfield, he could quickly read the plays and get to the ball or the ball carrier to assist in the tackles. His defensive coverage was strong and his speed helped him stay with his assignment to prevent long gains. These are the types of attributes that made area receivers cringe, but will make the Missouri Valley coaching staff very happy. Those receivers are glad Battle will be 1,200 miles away when football season rolls around.
“I really felt like Missouri Valley College will give me a great chance to play football and get my college degree,” Battle said. “They do have some senior defensive backs, but I believe the best man will play.” He plans to study athletic training during his stay at MVC.