FRISCO — Cameron Batson wants the opportunity to show just how fast and athletic he is this season.
That’s why the Texas Tech senior wide receiver, who recently ran a 4.3 while training with the Tech athletic staff, relishes his chance to return punts.
“I welcome that,” he said at Big 12 media days Monday at The Star in Frisco. “I always wanted to do that and that is what is going to help me to the next level. I am a guy that likes to take the risk. It is one of those plays where you are the only man that gets to show your talents on the play. It is a time to show how athletic you are.”
Of course, as one of Tech’s primary weapons this season. Batson said he knows he has to avoid injury — even if that means calling for a fair catch more than he would like.
“For me (the biggest key) is making sure you don’t get killed. You have to be smart. It is a dangerous play and that is why the NCAA and the NFL have been trying to protect the players who do it.”
Batson returned 17 punts last season, averaging 9.24 yards per return —good for 23rd in the country. Still, he would like return more and fair catch them less.
“Coach (Joe Robinson), he does a phenomenal job of putting his schemes together,” Batson said. “Coach Rob is always harping on perfecting your craft. We plan on being the best special teams in the nation. He has coached some of the greats. … So it is good to dissect his brain and see how they were so successful.”
Batson, who caught 61 passes for 650 yards and eight touchdowns last season leads an experienced Tech wide receiver corps. While, Tech lost its leading receiver, Jonathan Giles —who transferred to LSU — it also returns seniors Dylan Cantrell (57 receptions, 669 yards, 8 TDs) and Derrick Willies (18-228-2) and junior Keke Coutee (55-890-7).
“We have guys a lot of guys who have worked hard and you have to pick your poison. If you wanna double on Cantrell or me, you are going to have to have trouble with Cam and the like,” Coutee said. “We really thrive on each other. You are not going to see a beat skipped.”
A couple of breakout candidates include Willies and Quan Shorts. Shorts only had five catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, but both Coutee and Batson said the sophomore is their pick to step up this season.
Kingsbury, meanwhile, mentioned Shorts and T.J. Vasher, but ultimately said he thought Willies could be in for a breakout season.
“With Derrick I feel like he is there,” he said. “You saw it with (DeDe) Westbrook. He took a year to get settled in (at Oklahoma) and I think Derrick could be the same way.”