LSU football players went on a shopping spree in December.
This unfolded at a Best Buy store in Orlando, Florida, and it was part of the Citrus Bowl’s gift package for players — a $305 shopping spree. There’s a video of it on LSU’s website, more than 100 players flooding the aisles of Best Buy, showing off their soon-to-be purchases and such.
Most of them left with video game consoles, high-end headphones and other items a 20-year-old or teenager might pick off the shelves.
John Battle left with a Canon Rebel digital camera.
“Everybody else walked out with PS4s and Xboxes,” Battle laughed. “Everybody looked at me: ‘Why you got a camera?’ ”
Battle’s hobby hit another level with his new gear. He has photographed action at LSU baseball games this spring, and shot players during LSU’s pro day earlier this month. The senior safety even created an Instagram page for his photos, ivproductions.
He’s unsure of his future in photography. For now, it’s a fun hobby.
He’s more sure about his future in football. It’s more serious.
Battle is in charge of replacing Jamal Adams, the Tigers’ All-American safety who’s a projected top 10 pick in the NFL draft next week. Through 14 of LSU's 15 spring practices — the spring game is Saturday night — Battle sits at the top of the depth chart in Adams’ old spot.
The pressure’s on.
“Hard to replace,” said Battle, a first-time starter last season who hails from a Miami suburb. “Going to try my best to do it.”
This is the fourth in a seven-part series being published this week ahead of LSU's spring ga…
Battle went from backup to starter quickly last season. Rickey Jefferson fractured his ankle during practice ahead of the Tigers’ sixth game of the season. Battle got his first start that week against Southern Miss.
He hasn’t missed a start since, meshing well with Adams to form a strong one-two combination in the secondary. Despite Adams’ absence — he’s been away in Dallas training for the draft — the two remain in touch.
“We always chop it up on Snapchat, text messaging like that. (We) send funny videos to each other we see on Twitter,” Battle said. “Nothing’s really changed. He was my roommate for about two years, so we’re really close.”
Adams taught Battle how to watch film properly, how to come out of breaks and other intricacies to the position. But the biggest thing he gleaned from his former roommate: energy.
“The way he moves, always flying around, always by the ball,” Battle said. “He has a knack for getting to the ball, something I try to pick up.”
LSU’s defense doesn’t necessarily designate a strong and free safety. They’re “interchangeable,” players say, but Adams’ role was more of a strong type, nestled closer to the line of scrimmage. Battle is deeper down the field.
Battle expects that to change this season. He’ll be the one creeping toward the line more, with Ed Paris (the projected starter in Battle’s old gig) hanging back downfield.
This is the third in a seven-part series being published this week ahead of LSU's spring gam…
That change might — or might not — be on display during Saturday's spring game, set for 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium and to be aired in front of an SEC Network audience.
Battle is suffering from a few "nagging injuries," coach Ed Orgeron revealed Thursday. Whatever they are, they're set to be "fixed" during the offseason, the coach said. Orgeron wasn't sure of Battle's status for the game.
Meanwhile, he’ll continue with that photography hobby.
Jefferson recently posted photos of himself, shot by Battle, on Twitter. On Battle's Instagram, you can find photos of animals, LSU gymnasts competing in a meet and LSU baseball players in action — his favorite item to shoot.
He even posted a photo of his camera equipment. He has expanded on his gear.
“I’m just enjoying it right now, out there freelancing. Hopefully it can turn into something,” he said.
He shot plenty of Adams at LSU pro day, too. His predecessor is a week away from likely signing a multi-million dollar bonus.
“I told them he’s got to pay me for those pictures,” Battle joked.