School of Hogs’ Latest Commit Was Butt of Super Alum Ellen DeGeneres’ Joke

Markeylin Batton, Arkansas recruiting, Arkansas football
photo credit: Twitter/Markeylin Batton

Arkansas added to its 2025 recruiting class with the commitment of three-star athlete Markeylin Batton on Saturday morning.

Batton’s lead recruiter from Arkansas was running backs coach Jimmy Smith. He lists himself as a running back in his X (formerly Twitter) bio, but the rising senior has also been a standout performer at defensive back.

As a junior, the Atlanta, Texas, native ran for 610 yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries. He also caught 16 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns. In the secondary, he tallied 17 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups.

Multiple Sports, Multiple Positions for Markeylin Batton

Markeylin Batton is a multi-sport athlete, also running track for his school and posting a 10.93-second 100-meter dash. His X account reports a 4.46-second 40-yard dash time, as well. MaxPreps lists him at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.

The versatile playmaker received a scholarship offer from Sam Pittman and Arkansas on July 29. He holds 13 other offers, with five of those coming from Power Four schools such as Missouri, Michigan State and others. His notable Group of Five interests came from former Arkansas assistants Jeff Traylor and Barry Odom – now the head coaches of UTSA and UNLV, respectively. See his full offer list here.

Batton has yet to take an official visit to any schools, but he did attend the Hogwild Hangout back in July for an unofficial trip to Fayetteville. It was shortly after this event that he received his offer from the Razorbacks.

Ellen DeGeneres: Small-Town Standout

Markeylin Batton hails from an unlikely source for SEC-caliber football talent. His hometown of Atlanta, Texas, has a population of just over 5,000 people, and has produced only a handful of professional athletes. Just two former Rabbits – Phil Epps and two-time Super Bowl winner Ted Thompson – have had NFL careers longer than five seasons. Neither can be regarded as household names, and both retired back in the 1980s.

In fact, the school’s most famous alum is not even an athlete at all. That honor would have to go to former talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who graduated from Atlanta High in 1976 as a star tennis player. Years later, the comedian joked about her graduating class of not even 100 students: “100 is not a lot of people. Our team was called the Rabbits, so you’d think we’d have more of us,” she said. “Oh, they were scared of us. ‘We’ll nibble the grass so low, you’ll slip.’”

It hasn’t grown much since then. With an enrollment size of less than 500 students, it’s an impressive feat that Batton was able to get on the radar of high-major college football coaches.

He made a name for himself as a sophomore with his two-way prowess, earning the 3A utility player of the year award for Texas’ District 6. It was that November that he earned his first Power Four offer from Texas Tech after a season that saw him rush 86 times for 660 yards and nine touchdowns as he helped lead the Rabbits to a 7-4 record. He also posted 18 total tackles and 2 pass deflections on the defensive side. A compilation of his sophomore highlights can be found on Hudl.

In the immediate vicinity of Atlanta, Texas, is Queen City, the hometown of Jason Peters, the long-time NFL offensive lineman who starred at tight end for the Razorbacks. Batton is Peters’ nephew, according to Richard Davenport, the Arkansas football recruiting reporter.

At least two natives of Atlanta, Texas, proper played football for the Razorbacks. Before two-star safety Dallas Washington signed with Arkansas as part of the Class of 2004, he helped Atlanta High win its first and only state title in 2003.

Washington spent four years with the Hogs, eventually becoming a key contributor for Bobby Petrino’s first Arkansas team in 2008 and logging 41 tackles and an interception as a senior.

Before him was DeCori Birmingham, who is probably best-known for being on the receiving end of the first Miracle on Markham — Matt Jones’ 31-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds of a 21-20 win over LSU that clinched the SEC West title. He finished his career with 1,151 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, plus 592 yards and six more scores through the air.

Arkansas Recruiting in the New-Look SEC

The Razorbacks are up to four commitments in the Class of 2025. Markeylin Batton joins four-star running back Jamarion Parker, three-star quarterback Grayson Wilson and kicker Evan Noel. It’s still very early in the process, but the class is currently ranked 26th in the nation by 247Sports and 28th by Rivals. 

Sam Pittman will look to continue ramping up the Razorbacks’ recruiting efforts after a disappointing 2024 class that ranks 15th out of 16 teams in the newly-expanded SEC, ahead of only Vanderbilt. With just 16 signees following the defection of four-star wide receiver Ashton Bethel-Roman, Arkansas has dropped to 39th nationally in Rivals’ national team rankings. The lowly Commodores are right behind the Hogs in the 40th spot.

Bethel-Roman is one of five highly-touted prospects that have decommitted from Arkansas’ once-promising class following a disastrous 4-8 season. Fellow four-stars Courtney Crutchfield (Missouri), Noreel White (Ole Miss), Jadan Baugh (Florida) and Kai Greer (Georgia Tech) all made the decision to jump ship and head elsewhere.

Looking ahead to the Class of 2025, Pittman will look to stop the bleeding on what many recruits might be viewing as a sinking ship in Fayetteville. The Head Hog is currently No. 2 on the “Coaches Hot Seat Ranking” heading into next season. He will be hoping that Batton’s commitment is a sign of more good things to come for the Razorbacks moving forward.


Check out some highlights of recent Arkansas football commit Markeylin Batton:



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