Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Scouting Bates’ role at Tennessee
By Craig Haubert
ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates committed to Tennessee on Wednesday at The Opening. Here's how RecruitingNation’s talent scouts think he’ll fit in Knoxville.
What he brings: Bates is a sound linebacker prospect and just a disciplined overall football player who leaves it all on the field, similar to how his father former Tennessee Volunteer Bill Bates played in his lengthy NFL career as a special-teams standout. The younger Bates is smart in his reads, quick to diagnose and could develop into the role of being the communicator of the Tennessee defense down the road. Against the pass he can be a disruptive blitzer, displays good coverage awareness and can be a good active run defender with his athleticism and smarts.
How he fits: New Vols defensive coordinator John Jancek is in charge of transforming one of the SEC’s poorest defensive units in 2012 and will be shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3, which might benefit Bates, who projects well as a strong-side linebacker. This is a linebacker with very good playing strength who does a good job scraping, shedding and stringing runs out to the sideline.
History at position: Tennessee saw some good linebackers come through the program in the 2000s, such as Kevin Burnett and Jerod Mayo, but the Vols have not recruited strongly at linebacker in recent classes. They did hit with A.J Johnson, the SEC’s leading tackler in 2012, but the talented defender is heading into his junior year.
Prediction for performance: This is a hard-working, cerebral football player who plays bigger and faster than his listed measurables suggest and is somewhat of an overachiever with a high probability of success at the next level. He might need a little time in the Volunteers' weight program to further fill out his frame, as well as continue to his develop his explosiveness and flexibility before making a significant impact. But we see a lot of value on special teams initially, with the ability to grow into a real productive defender.
How the class is shaping up: Butch Jones’ first full class is shaping up to be a strong one for Tennessee. Currently in the top 10 of the class rankings, it’s led by a pair of ESPN 300 in-state prospects in RB Jalen Hurd and Todd Kelly Jr.. The class also consists of ESPN 300 prospect Gavin Bryant, another pickup helping to address the need at LB. Now they add Bates, the type of player with enough name recognition to help potentially attract some more high-caliber ESPN 300 prospects to Knoxville.