247Sports' Nathan King felt the writing was on the wall for Brian Battie to transfer from Hugh Freeze's Auburn football program given the return of star running back Jarquez Hunter in 2024.
"There was a bit of writing on the wall here, as Battie had zero carries in the final three games of the season," King prefaced before saying, "Auburn also expects Jarquez Hunter to return, so it was going to be a crowded room."
Hunter had previously been unclear on his future weeks ahead of the eventually disastrous Music City Bowl matchup against Maryland.
“I haven’t decided right now -- I’m just focused on the bowl game trying to get past that,” Hunter said (h/t On3). “I look back over the year and see how I developed as a player and how I played, and things I need to work on if I come back.
“It’s important to my teammates. I've fought with them and not playing in the bowl game is a selfish thing to me. We practice all year together, play all year together, just finish with my teammates that I go to war with at practice and finish through the season. I’ve been stuck between…I haven’t had a definite, oh I’m leaving or I’m coming back. It’s just been mixed thoughts.”
Jarquez Hunter's return boosts ceiling for Auburn football in 2024
Battie's exit could lead to bigger things for the running back whose role at AU was nothing close to what it was at USF. Hunter's return leads to a higher ceiling for the program in 2024, even if the future looked bright anyway with Damari Alston and Jeremiah Cobb.
With a star-studded incoming receiving corps, the best in the country led by Cam Coleman and Perry Thompson, and a potential transfer portal QB addition -- if Hank Brown doesn't just ascend to the QB1 role after a strong debut in the Music City Bowl -- Hunter's return ties it all together.