RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s not often a big-time college football coach makes his way to Rocky Mount.
“It’s a very small area,” explained N.C. State defensive back Shyheim Battle. “Every now and then you’ll get a big-time recruit out of the area.”
Battle was one of those guys.
A four-star recruit, the former Rocky Mount Gryphon star said “no” to Dabo Swinney and powerhouse Clemson and instead chose to stay closer to home and play for the N.C. State Wolfpack.
“I felt like I was comfortable, I felt like I was home,” Battle said for why he chose N.C. State. “Every coach welcomed me and showed me how things went around here.
“I even sat in on a couple of training sessions and came to a couple of practices,” said Battle. “I liked the flow of things and felt that I could fit in here.”
After a redshirt year, Battle is now fitting into the Wolfpack secondary. He has started all three games this season, tallying 11 tackles while leading the team in pass breakups with three.
“Shyheim, he’s very coachable and a really, really, really hard-worked,”gushed N.C. State safety Tanner Ingle. “Shyheim is a guy who comes in and he just tries to get better every single day and that’s what I love about him.”
Battle faced high, sometimes unrealistic expectations when he landed in Raleigh.
As one of the program’s best recruits, many wondered why he was redshirted his first year on campus.
“I think for all these guys recruiting has created a false reality,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren explained. “All the social media and the public fanfare and put you on a pedestal and make you feel like you’re ready for the NFL. It’s unfair to these kids because it’s not reality.”
The reality is, according to Doeren, Battle is actually well ahead of the curve when it comes to playing time.
“In ‘Shy’s case, he’s on the field as a redshirt freshman and he’s starting,” Doeren said. “If you’re a three-year starter in the ACC or the SEC you’re an elite football player.”
That’s why so many big time coaches have made their way Down East through the years.
“Me being one of the bigger guys I just drew a lot of attention to the area,” bragged Battle. “It was different, you’ve got to take it all in.”
Battle is proud of where he comes from and excited to be living up to the high expectations that were placed upon him.