Battle's speed will get him on the field as wide receiver, defensive back for Mavs

Turmour Battle gives the Colorado Mesa football team something it hasn’t had a lot of: speed. The junior college transfer also can play offense and defense and may see the field Saturday as a defensive back.


Colorado Mesa (0-3, 0-1 RMAC)
at Black Hills State (0-2, 0-1 RMAC)

Saturday, 1 p.m., Lyle Hare Stadium, Spearfish, S.D.

Radio: 1230-AM (KEXO), 99.9-FM (KEKB)

The Coaches

Colorado Mesa — Russ Martin, first season, 0-3. Black Hills State — John Reiners, first season, 0-2.

Last Week

Colorado Mesa grabbed its first lead of the season but couldn’t put Chadron State away in 41-30 loss.

Black Hills State allowed 517 yards of total offense in a 42-19 loss in its RMAC opener at Colorado School of Mines.

Series History

This is the first meeting between the two programs. Black Hills State joined NCAA Division II and the RMAC this year on a provisional status. The Yellow Jackets are ineligible for postseason play.

Players to Watch

Colorado Mesa — RB Jake Cimolino has 47 carries for 275 yards (5.9 per carry) and 11 catches for 77 yards. LB Jake Edmiston leads the team with 26 tackles. Kick returner Trent deBraga has nine returns for 241 yards (26.8 per return).

Black Hills State — QB Ward Anderson threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns against Mines last weekend. RB Bryar DeSanti had nine rushes for 26 yards and three catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns. WR Daniel Hancock had 11 catches for 69 yards. LB Trent Turbiville led the Yellow Jackets with 12 tackles last week.

Injury Report

CMU QB Deke Cisco injured his ankle against Chadron State and is questionable. He had a boot on his left ankle the past two days and didn’t practice. DB Valencio Gray broke his hand in the loss to Chadron State and is out four to six weeks, Martin said. DE Domonique Lewis (hamstring), LB Sean Dorrance (hamstring), and LB Clint Imlay (knee) are out.

Coach Martin says:

About Black Hills State:

“If you look at it, they are very similar in some respects to Chadron. They are primarily a 3-3 scheme and bring a variety of pressures. They have what we call blue-collar kids. They compete hard. They are good enough to beat us if we don’t play well. ... Offensively they are similar to Chadron, similar to us.”

On Black Hills State’s offense:

“Two years ago, when I was at Kearney, their offensive staff came down and spent three days with us at Kearney, learning our offensive system. I think you’ll see a similar deal. It’s a hybrid of things Chadron has done and we have done (at Kearney). Ours (at CMU) is a hybrid of things. There are some similar things in this game and last week’s game, which is a good thing for us. It gives our players a chance to see similar-type things and improve our execution.”

On Black Hills State’s defense:

“The defensive coordinator has some Chadron ties. One of the guys that was originally going to come down with us, Tanner Tetrault ... was going to coach some defense and special teams, but when Jay Long took the Chadron job, Tanner went back up there. You’ll see a tremendous amount of special teams and defensive schemes similar to ours. It will be a lot of the same influence.”

Game Notes

■ Martin said QB Jason Haferman likely will start in place of Deke Cisco, but if Cisco is cleared to play, he may return to action.

■ CMU senior OL Trevor Stapp is set to start his 36th game Saturday.

■ Black Hills State head coach John Reiners was the offensive coordinator there the past three seasons.

■ The Yellow Jackets have nine returning starters on offense and 10 returning starters on defense.

■ Black Hills State scored first in its first two games this season, but trailed by the end of the first quarter and never regained the lead.

His speed gives the Colorado Mesa University football team a weapon it hasn’t had in a while: a deep threat at wide receiver and a player capable of playing on both sides of the ball.

Turmour Battle, a junior, was clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash in high school at Denver South, then clocked 4.41 seconds at Mendocino (Calif.) Junior College.

As Battle gets more comfortable with the offense in his first year at Colorado Mesa, Mavericks coach Russ Martin expects to get him on the field more, and not just on offense.

That Martin has the speed demon at all is a story full of twists for Battle, who drew interest from several Division I programs out of high school for his speed and versatility.

“Speed works out on both (sides of the ball),” Battle said. “If you think about it, you use speed going forward, but you use just as much speed going backward.”

He eventually chose the University of Wyoming because of its persistence in recruiting him.

Battle redshirted and later was released from the program, he said, because he failed a drug test, which he refutes.

“It was false accusations is all it was,” Battle said. “I was tested, and the results, in my opinion, was mixed up with other players. It never really got solved. Nobody really knows the full story.

“I had it all, then overnight it was taken away.”

Mendocino (Calif.) Junior College believed his story and gave him another chance, but the Eagles moved him to defensive back.

The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder earned all-conference honors and was again garnering interest from Division I programs, he but wasn’t getting any scholarship offers. Some programs likely hesitated as a result of the drug test.

“(Colorado Mesa) was really the only one that wanted me now,” said Battle, who signed with the Mavericks on the first day of the signing period.

Battle showcased his speed during the team’s fall scrimmage, catching a deep ball, but he has yet to catch a pass in a game.

“He’s been picking up the system,” Martin said. “He’s got very good athletic talent. We’re trying to get it where he understands the scheme even more so to consistently play well and get him on the field more.”

Battle may get an interception before he catches a pass.

Martin told Battle he may play both sides of the ball Saturday at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

“It was already in conversation before I came out here,” Battle said. “Eventually, it was a matter of time. I didn’t know this soon, but I was ready as soon as he asked me.”

Martin told Battle the Mavericks may need him and his experience on defense with an injury to cornerback Valencio Gray, who broke his hand in Mesa’s loss to Chadron State last week. The Mavericks already lost two defensive backs to season-ending injury before the first game. Safety Evan Altheide had to quit football because of back problems. Safety Andrew Hurley tore a knee ligament in practice.

“He was an outstanding defensive back (in junior college) and is pretty dang good at it,” Martin said.

Dual roles to improve depth are becoming common for the Mavericks.

Martin said Dan Geubelle is working at running back and wide receiver; Thomas Sua is working at running back and tight end; and DJ Hubbard is working at receiver and running back.

“We can’t dig ourselves in a hole that we rely on one guy so much at one position,” Martin said. “If he gets hurt, it devastates us.”

Battle doesn’t care where he plays. He said he’s thankful he has a chance to utilize his physical skills to get a college education.

“It’s a blessed opportunity ... and I still have two years of eligibility left,” Battle said. “I’ll make the most of it.”


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