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Sunday, March 3, 2013
Tennessee legacy talks Vols, UF visit

By Kipp Adams

ATLANTA -- Sometimes impressive combine numbers do not translate into on-the-field production. Such is not the case for Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), who posted a 4.79 40-yard dash, 4.28 shuttle, 39-inch power ball toss and 37-inch vertical jump in freezing weather at Saturday's Nike SPARQ Combine.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound linebacker backed up those numbers with 103 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks during his junior season. During that time, he has racked up more than 30 offers, the most recent coming from Ole Miss, Texas and UCLA. The abundance of options has been a blessing for Bates and his family, but it has also caused him to take a more reserved approach to his recruitment.

“I have not really been able to sift through the offers and narrow things down,” Bates said. “Hopefully this spring we can go on more visits and narrow things down.”

He was able to squeeze in a trip two weeks ago to Gainesville, Fla., and he hopes to be in Knoxville, Tenn., next week. Because of location and heritage, both programs look to have a prominent role in Bates’ decision.

Growing up in Florida since I was 8, I always followed the Florida vs. Georgia game, as well as games with Florida State, and Alabama games,” Bates said. "During my visit I got a good chance to sit down with some of the coaches and players to see how everything runs. Talking football with coach [D.J.] Durkin and coach [Will] Muschamp was a blast.”

His father, Bill Bates, was a four-year starter at safety for Tennessee and went on to play 15 years for the Dallas Cowboys. While earning the dubious distinction of giving up Herschel Walker’s first touchdown in college, Bates became a fan favorite in Dallas, establishing himself as one of the fiercest hitters on special teams in the NFL.

The chance to follow in his father’s footsteps is important for the 2014 linebacker.

“With my dad playing at Tennessee, I definitely followed them,” Bates said. “My parents have told me from the start they are not pressuring me into anything and that they will support me wherever I decide to go, whether it is Tennessee or somewhere else. I am sure my dad would be excited if I went to Tennessee, but I also feel like he would be excited for me anywhere.  It will be good to get to know the new coaching staff and try and build a relationship with them.”