Skip to main content

A Coach's Son, Bengals Rookie Safety Jordan Battle Arrives Well-Schooled

S Jordan Battle points during Phase 2 Training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, May 15 2023.
S Jordan Battle points during Phase 2 Training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields in Cincinnati, Ohio on Monday, May 15 2023.

They met for the first time like so many of them do, shoved into a Lucas Oil Stadium suite during those 18 bizarre minutes in Indianapolis that the NFL scouting combine sets aside for teams to interview prospects.

When this prospect met with the Bengals staff, safeties coach Robert Livingston was charged with running the group through a series of cutups showcasing The Coach's Son. Livingston got to maybe the third snap, a complex play replete with shifts and sounds when Livingston heard a guy who sounded more Coach than Son. The Coach's Son rattled off the minutest of the play's details complete with a breakdown of the responsibilities of the front.

"I kind of felt like he snuck in there and watched it already," recalls Livingston. "It was clear this guy knew ball. I looked around at everybody else and I'm thinking, 'OK. I think we're probably good here, bud. So tell us about how you are. What about you?"

So they found out Alabama safety Jordan Battle is a Coach's Son. He's the son of Theresa Battle, too, but it was Fred Battle, a former pro and long-time Miami-area high school basketball coach who had him for about eight years on the AAU basketball team he ran and says, "If I had 15 Jordan Battles, I wouldn't lose a game because they do it just the way you want them to do it and when you told him to do it he would try to be the best he could be doing it. He's always had that."

The Coach's Son certainly had it for 18 minutes in Indy.

"When he walked out of the room, I think everyone felt the same way," Livingston says. "He's different, he understands the game."

The Bengals understood exactly what they were getting in the third round of last month's draft. Here's a heavily recruited blue-chipper from the football hotbed of Miami who was in the middle of 52 games for Nick Saban's pro-ready defense and knows what time it is. As Livingston says, Battle already knows what it's like to walk into a room where a bunch of five-star guys already sit.

"He's big. He's got a big frame for a safety," says Nick Scott, a Super Bowl champ and one of the vets in front of him. "But he can still move. Athletic. And he's smart. He's picking things up so far. We're excited. I think he's a guy that can contribute all the way. He can help us whether it be on teams or defense. He's a smart player. Everybody has seen his tape at Alabama. He's playing against the best in college football. He seems like he's got a good head on his shoulders."

Do you want to know about Jordan Battle? That's where you start.

"I pride myself on being a student of the game. I try to be a coach out there on the field," Battle says. "Help out any way I can. I probably get that from being a coach's son for sure. That definitely has a lot to do with it."

Battle knows why Fred says he'd be unbeaten with 15 of him.

"I love defense," Jordan Battle says. "I'd get most of my points off steals and layups and running in transition. That was the main part of my game. If you have that on your team, you're going to be unstoppable, especially when you can press all game."

Fred Battle admits it hurt a little bit when it came time to call the college shot and both sons opted for football instead of basketball. Jaylen Battle, the oldest by five-and-a-half years, went to Illinois State as a safety. When Fred got out of tiny Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, he went pro and played eight years in Greece, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. He loved playing for Cypress because the city's tropical beauty reminded him of Miami and there was a mutual love affair with the Venezuelan people he cherishes. They loved all things American like hats and shirts and sneakers. Those were the days he'd leave for the season with two suitcases and come back with none.

"He didn't talk about it much," Jordan Battle says of his dad's career. "One time he did show me a newspaper where he set something like the season scoring average record."

Fred Battle did more than score overseas. He ran the floor, facilitated, worked the paint, did what was asked. He retired when Jaylen was born in 1995 and came home to become a math teacher and coach. When it came time for Jordan to decide on a high school, Fred was coaching at American Heritage and people were appalled when Jordan followed Jaylen to St. Thomas Aquinas. Two rival private school athletic powers close by. What was going on?

"I told them, 'Well, it's not my life. It's his life,'" Fred Battle says. "It's his choice. It's pretty much run like a college program. If he doesn't go to that school, I don't think he could have had the success he had at Bama. It's the best choice he could have made."

Bengals fans know all about St. Thomas. Playoff team staples from the previous decade, Geno Atkins and Giovani Bernard, attended. It was a place where Fred Battle knew the coaches wouldn't stand for things his son had already questioned.

"When he was playing little league, he would see things like kids not showing up for practice or they were late or they wouldn't run when they were supposed to run or they didn't work hard and they wouldn't get disciplined. They were still playing," Fred Battle says. "That's how it is in youth ball. They just care about talent and he was starting to wonder about it. And I told him, 'That's not our household. We don't do it that way.' I told him that as he got older, he would see how doing it the right way would be rewarded. And when he got to high school he said, 'I see what you mean.'"

Jordan Battle says "our household," was a place where you couldn't get away with much. "If you did you were lucky." And it extended to the basketball floor, where one game when Jordan thinks he was 11 or 12 Fred benched him.

"Then I said something slick to him and I got it in front of everybody," Jordan Battle says. "One of my most embarrassing things as a child. I went back and sat down."

See the best photos from the first day of rookie mini camp at the IEL Practice Facility.

But those moments hardly ever happened the way a proud Fred Battle tells it. He remembers once when Jaylen was playing for him in eighth grade AAU hoop and Jordan tagged along to one of the practices that usually began with a two-mile run.

"He was seven or eight and the guy who did our strength and conditioning wanted to know if he wanted to work with us," Fred Battle says. "He never ran away from work. So he's running with the older kids and Jordan's lagging back and the guy says, 'You can stop.' And he says he's not going to stop, he's going to finish. The guy still remembers it. How Jordan's heart was beating through his shirt and he was finishing ahead of some of the older players."

In "our household," Theresa is still the trusted treasurer and Fred is the commissioner of the Lauderhill Hill Lions youth football organization like they were pretty much 24 years ago when Jaylen started playing at four years old. And even though he's in the NFL and out of the household, Jordan Battle is still listening.

"You have to listen. You can never be too rich. The more money, the merrier. The more you know, the better you play," says The Coach's Son. "The better you can teach, the better you can learn, the more confident you are in your game. Having confidence going on to the football field is a big thing for me."