- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
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Senior outside linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra) was presented his honorary game jersey at Ponte Vedra High School on Thursday during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of the three-month selection tour for the game.
Bates, a Tennessee commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised all-star game spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.
“First, I would like to say thanks to my friends and family,” Bates said. “My teammates, my coaches ... I couldn’t be here without you guys. Thank you for always supporting me through everything. I would also like to say thank you to Under Armour and all the sponsors. I’m honored to be an Under Armour All-American.”
Ponte Vedra coach Mike Loyd cites Bates’ athleticism and work ethic as making him a potentially special player.
“What makes him special is he’s got all kinds of athleticism to begin with, but his work ethic. He’s driven. Obviously, his dad is a three-time Super Bowl winning guy [Bill Bates], 15 years, the longest-tenured [Dallas] Cowboy, and he has those same traits. He outworks people. He’s a gifted athlete as well. A 4.5 kid, has a 39-inch vertical jump ... the athleticism is there, but he also has the work ethic, the drive in the weight room, and he wants to be great. ... He wants to be the best.”
For Bates, playing close to home in front of friends and family in prime time made choosing the UA game an easy decision.
“I decided to choose the Under Armour All-America Game because it’s closer to home. It’s somewhere I can have my friends and family come to the game, and also all the practices are televised. The game is a prime-time game, and it’s something that ever since I was little, I always kind of had the idea I wanted to play in the Under Armour All-America Game. Some of the best running backs in the nation are going to be there, so I’m looking forward to seeing how my abilities stack up against them, and then also getting ready for the next level knowing that they will have a starting position," Bates said.
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound Bates is the No. 103 prospect overall and the No. 3 outside linebacker in the 2014 class. He committed to Tennessee over offers from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas and several others.
Senior outside linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra) was presented his honorary game jersey at Ponte Vedra High School on Thursday during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game.