That much is clear. It's what's going on behind him on the depth chart where less is set in stone.
"That's the fight," coach Tim Beckman said. "D.J. Woods has made leaps and bounds in a year. And then (Dawuane) Smoot, Paul James, there's got to be somebody that can step in and play."
While Bates is a junior and coaches and teammates rave about his fit at the spot, the rest of the group has never played in a college football game. Woods has taken hold of the position with the No. 2 defense, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound redshirt freshman who goes by either DeJazz or D.J.
After that, it's Smoot that's created excitement thus far in fall camp. He's been credited by Beckman for quickness off the edge. At this point, redshirting is last way the 6-foot-3, 230-pound native of Groveport, Ohio will spend this season.
"Dejazz Woods is my backup," Bates said. "Smoot and Paul James are the freshmen behind him. I'm trying to get everybody on board, get everybody up to speed because we're going to need everybody. It can't be just one guy."