Weight Off His Shoulders, Success On His Mind

During the defensive struggles of the 2001 season, no player on the Sun Devils team was more maligned than senior linebacker Solomon Bates. In this candid interview to DevilsDigest, Bates talks about his weight issues, the struggles of last year, and his outlook towards his final season at ASU.

DevilsDigest: Solo, with Camp T ending a few days ago how do you feel coming into the season?

Solomon Bates: I think camp went well for me. The whole defense came out of it excited. My play was up to par. I'm just excited to see what we do this year.

DD: Being a senior, how did it feel going through camp knowing this was going to be your last visit to Tontozona?

SB: I actually gonna miss this place. It was cut short because I had to leave for family reasons (his grandmother passed away). So camp will be missed, but when next summer rolls along, I'm sure I'll forget about it (smile).

DD: When the defense took a lot heat for its performance last year, it seems that you were everybody's whipping boy. Do you feel that the criticism targeted at you was fair?

SB: In some ways I did bring it on myself. We as a defense know we didn't get it done, and ofcourse a lot of criticism comes with that. We're gonna try and turn this thing around, and not give reasons for people to criticize us.

DD: Are you a person that likes to use criticism as a motivation tool to perform better?

SB: Yes I am. It definitely motivated me during the spring and summer. I look at it as everyone having up times and down times. Last year was the bottom for me, so I'm gonna try and get above that.

DD: There were a lot of theories on why you gained your weight last season. Can you set the record straight on why it happened?

SB: (laughing) Honestly, I'm not really sure. I didn't gain weight because the coaches asked me to or anything like that. I really didn't think that my weight was that big of an issue. Now that I'm down in weight, that's the only question I hear about. So to the outside people I guess it was a big issue. But it was never something that people asked me to put on weight. I just got out of shape and let myself slip.

DD: How easy or hard was it losing all that weight?

SB: It wasn't hard at all. I had eat right, stay healthy, and our summer conditioning program took care of the rest.

DD: Do you think there's a direct correlation between you weight and your level of play?

SB: Definitely, it has to be. I'm lighter and faster. It's all coming into play.

DD: Some believe that the 4-2-5 scheme isn't suited for a natural linebacker such as yourself. How much of an adjustment was for you personally playing in this new alignment?

SB: It wasn't that big of an adjustment. What we did have to get used to is that in this plan certain plays you can make, and certain ones you can't. We have to learn from all the mistakes we had last year, and correct them. When we a chance to make a play, we have to go ahead and take advantage of it. I know I'll be better this season

DD: With only two linebackers playing each down, It's gonna be hard to find a lot of playing time for you and the other two seniors: Josh Amobi and Mason Unck. How important is for you to be a starter on the first play against Nebraska?

SB: It's not necessarily that important to me. I just want to play. If I do start against Nebraska that's great. But I just want to be in there making plays and helping the team.

DD: Do you and the defense view this season as a great opportunity to not only prove the doubters wrong, but also get some fans back on your side and in the stands?

SB: Definitely. We're gonna bring back Tempe to the college town that it used to be. We're gonna surprise a lot of people. Opening against Nebraska and playing the schedule we are, we do have an opportunity to do that.

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