Bills sixth-round pick Danny Batten is an outside linebacker prospect that took the road less traveled to the NFL. He made the most of his college career at South Dakota State, earning Missouri Valley Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors, which helped land him a postseason all-star appearance in the Texas vs. the Nation game.
Who knew a well placed brick would prove more instrumental in helping Batten get to that game in the first place?
Though Batten was not invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL combine, he was working out at Athletes Performance in Pensacola, Florida in preparation for his pro day and individual workout requests by NFL clubs.
Booked for an early morning flight to El Paso, Texas at the end of January for the beginning of the practice week in preparation for the Texas vs. The Nation game on Feb. 6, Batten hopped in his rental car a little after 4 am.
Low on fuel Batten pulled in to the first gas station he came across to fill up. The station was closed, but the pump was operational accepting credit card payment for gas. Unfortunately when Batten walked over to the gas pump mother nature decided to make his life difficult.
"When I got out of the car, the wind blew the door shut with the keys still in the ignition, and the automatic locks clicked," said Batten. "So I was locked out of the car, and I was still about 35 minutes from the airport."
Batten called the police to see if they could help. They told him since it wasn't an emergency they could not offer assistance. He called a locksmith, but he would not be able to get to the gas station in time. A quick response could not be promised by a towing company either.
Out of options Batten was not about to miss out on the opportunity to gain some much needed exposure in front of NFL scouts in El Paso.
"I was scrambling for about 45 minutes and then I spotted a brick lying on the ground nearby," said Batten. "I waited as long as possible for help and just wound up bashing the rear passenger window with the brick. Missing that game wasn't an option."
Gaining entry back into the car, it was a race to the airport to make his flight.
"It was super tight," Batten said. "If I arrived five minutes later I wouldn't have made it. My nerves really didn't calm down until we landed."
Batten offered to pay his agent back for the damage to the rental car, since he had rented it for him, but his agent declined.
"He told me not to worry about it because he liked the story so much," Batten said.
In the end Batten got a full week of practice in and some valuable face time with NFL scouts and talent evaluators leading up to the game.
"The time you spend with the scouts and the opportunity alone that you have to showcase yourself and shine is invaluable," said the Bills sixth-round pick. "It was a great experience for me and I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am right now without it."
Batten also had his family in from Arizona to watch him play in the game. Suiting up for the Texas team, Batten finished third on his team in tackles with five with Texas winning the game 36-17. His family however, might have enjoyed his story about the brick more.
"They were laughing about my story," he said. "They didn't know what else they would've done though in that situation. They thought under the circumstances I did the only thing I could do."
Considering the linebacker was a Construction Management major at South Dakota State the brick fits.