Former Cass football player Tarris Batiste did not hear his name called on draft night last week, but that does not mean his chances to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL are over.
After the last round Saturday, Batiste announced that he was invited to participate in the Atlanta Falcons’ rookie minicamp, beginning Thursday and running through Saturday.
“I’m definitely excited. I’m going to compete and see where it goes from there,” Batiste said of the opportunity. “[I hope to show] I’m good enough to make the team, I’m good enough to make the 53-man roster, I’m good enough to be a player for them.”
Batiste said the Falcons called his agent on Saturday, but he was informed on Friday that he might be invited to the rookie minicamp, so he “kind of knew before the draft ended.”
“It kind of was a surprise,” he said of when he initially heard he could get an invite. “You never really know because none of that is in your hands unless you’re a first-rounder.
“They were like, ‘We like you. We want to bring you in for rookie minicamp and see how you compete and see where we go from there.’”
Batiste feels confident in his ability to make an impression and stick with the team.
“I definitely think I can,” he said of making an impression during the minicamp. “I’m pretty confident I will make an impression. It’s nothing but football, Xs and Os, which I’ve been doing all my life. Of course, guys are bigger and faster, but I believe I’m around the same.”
Of course, the Falcons already have one Bartow County product in second-year defensive end and former Adairsville Tiger Vic Beasley.
“Since I know Vic personally, it’s pretty good,” Batiste said of playing for the hometown Falcons.
Batiste was named all-Sun Belt Conference as a senior at Georgia State where he registered 100 total tackles in 13 games, 6 1/2 for losses, with four interceptions, six pass breakups, a quarterback hit and two forced fumbles. He was a two-year starter for Georgia State at safety after starting his sophomore year for the Panthers at outside linebacker.
He transferred to Georgia State after his freshman year at Indiana State. He is the career leader in interceptions for the Panthers with five and ranks second in career tackles with 263) and tackles for losses with 21 1/2.
He was a two-time Sun Belt Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week, was fourth in the Sun Belt with four interceptions, which is the Georgia State season record. He was second on the team in tackles, the third-highest season total in GSU history. He also helped the Panthers rank in the top four of the Sun Belt in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense while improving by more than 120 yards per game against the run.
Batiste helped lead Georgia State from an 0-12 year as a sophomore to a 1-11 year as a junior and a 6-7 record as a senior when the Panthers became bowl-eligible for the first time in program history.
After his stellar senior season, Batiste worked out at GSU’s pro day on March 11.
“I had a good pro day. It was pretty decent for a safety,” he said. “I think my 40[-yard dash time] was a 4.59 [seconds]. My second one was a 4.62. My [vertical jump] was 31 [inches]. I kind of knew I wasn’t going to get as high on the vert. Bench press [of 225 pounds] was 18 [reps]. [20-yard] Shuttle was like 4.32 [seconds]. So it was solid.”
He also worked out for the Falcons before the draft.
“I worked our for the Falcons in March,” Batiste said. “That was the only team I worked out for. I talked to multiple teams, but nobody really sought me out for a workout.”
Batiste spent the time between the end of his season at Georgia State and the draft working out at GTA (Georgia Training Alliance) in Buckhead and at the Panthers’ facilities.
“It was fun. It was also definitely anxious,” he said of the draft process. “I was coming from Georgia State, so I kind of knew people would overlook me, which is fine. That’s how it was at Cass as well. But I enjoyed the process. I wouldn’t say I would take it back. I enjoyed it. I worked out with six guys who are my closest friends, so it was fun.”
There has never been an NFL player from Cass High, but Batiste is looking to change that.
“I want to beat the odds,” He said. “I want to show people from Bartow County, and Cass particularly, it’s possible. If you keep chasing your dreams and keep believing, preparing and putting in the work, everything will work out on its own.”