Ex-USF football star Brian Battie improving after being shot in head

DESTIN — Former USF football star and Auburn running back Brian Battie remains hospitalized but is improving after being shot in the head earlier this month.

“He’s getting better,” Auburn coach Hugh Freeze said Tuesday at the SEC’s spring meetings. “(To) honor the family, I don’t want to go into too many things, but they appreciate all the prayers, for sure. It’s been a difficult time for the whole family, but he seems to be getting better each day.”

But there’s a long road ahead, even in the most optimistic scenarios. According to court documents filed late last week, his prognosis was “permanent paralysis.”

The 22-year-old Sarasota native was injured in an early-morning shooting on May 18 near a hookah bar in his hometown. His older brother, Tommie, was killed at age 24.

According to a probable cause affidavit from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the Batties were walking in the area when Darryl Brookins drew a gun and fired at them. Both returned fire. In court documents, authorities accuse Brookins of firing about 12 or 13 shots from a few feet away. About 200 people were in or near the parking lot at the time.

Brookins, 28, was arrested last week. He faces charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Battie was one of the top returners in the country at USF, rushing for more than 1,800 yards and amassing more than 1,400 on kickoff returns. He transferred to the Tigers before last season and was one of the SEC’s top returners.

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