Bates turns heads at U.S. Army combine

SAN ANTONIO - - Bill Bates was a Tennessee Volunteer before he became one of the NFL’s pre-eminent special teams player during his 15-year career with the Dallas Cowboys.

His son, junior linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra), has a chance to follow in his footsteps. The Volunteers have already offered.

But the Bates’ have agreed to let Dillon blaze his own path and aren’t pushing him to go to Tennessee.

“It gives them a little pull but my family has told me that they want me to pick where I want to go and they are not influencing me at all,” Dillon Bates said at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome on Friday.

Bates has plenty of other options.

Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Maryland, Miami, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Virginia and Wake Forest have also offered.

“It’s really just a humbling experience,” Bates said of all his offers. “Of course I couldn’t do it without my teammates helping me. I am just really glad and happy with where I am at.”

Bates has narrowed his list down to a few schools for now, though that could change. They are Notre Dame, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Ohio State.

All of those schools carry the type of football prestige that Bates is looking for.

“There are schools that when you think of the prestigious name, the tradition and the fraternity of players that have come through there,” he said. “I am looking for a school like that. One I can be passionate about and want to play for. And ultimately football is going to end someday so I want to go somewhere where I can get a degree and go somewhere in life.”

Bates has taken unofficial visits to South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Florida State and Alabama already. He plans on visiting numerous more next fall.

“The Alabama trip was pretty sweet. We went to the FAU game,” he said.

“They haven’t offered yet but hopefully they will soon. They are pretty much the best team in the country.

“Tennessee, just going where my dad played and seeing what he experienced, was great. I haven’t talked to the new coaches yet.”

Bates was one of 500 recruits that took part in the combine. He’s trained for this for a while and thought his work paid off on Friday.

“I have been working ever since the season ended I contacted my speed and agility coach and have been working on speed and combine stuff at his facility,” he said. “I am really glad that my work has paid off a little bit and how much I have improved.”