Ex-USF star Brian Battie still fighting for life after weekend shooting

Former USF record-setting kick returner Brian Battie remains on a ventilator in a Sarasota hospital following a weekend shooting that resulted in the death of his older brother.

Auburn coach Hugh Freeze, who coached Battie last season after the Sarasota High star transferred to the SEC school, reported Monday on X (formerly Twitter) that Battie had a setback Sunday evening and still can’t breathe on his own.

Longtime Sarasota Herald-Tribune sports columnist Doug Fernandes, citing “someone close to the situation,” reported Battie, 22, opened his eyes and moved his hands following surgery on Saturday.

According to multiple media outlets, Battie was one of four victims hospitalized in a shooting the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says happened in the 3400 block of 17th Street at approximately 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Battie’s older brother, Tommie, was killed in the shooting.

Sheriff’s office spokesperson Dana Judge had no new information on the shooting — in terms of arrests or motive — as of early Monday afternoon. Meantime, a GoFundMe account for the Battie family has been established.

A 4,500-yard rusher his final three prep seasons, Battie spent three years at USF, becoming only the sixth player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season when he finished with 1,186 in 2022.

He thrust himself into the nation’s consciousness the year before, leading the country with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and tying an NCAA single-game record with two 100-yard returns in the same contest (a 54-42 loss to Houston). He transferred to Auburn following the 2022 season, and finished fourth in the SEC in kick-return average (23.0) last fall.

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