Bates is always working to get better

Houston Bates has never been one to enjoy the individual spotlight. But when his St. Paul's squad met Slidell-Northshore last season there was a lot of focus on the matchup of the talented defensive end going up against offensive tackle Chris Faulk.

At the time, Faulk was an LSU commitment and regarded as one of the top tackles in the country by Bates had more success than most did against Faulk last season, but when the final seconds ticked off the clock there was one thing that mattered most to the Covington (La.) product. 


“He had a pretty good game and had one or two sacks,” St. Paul’s head coach Ken Sears said about Bates’ performance. “But, he was disappointed more than anything because we lost.”


Bates, a six-foot-three, 250-pounder with reported 4.7 speed, was disappointed about the outcome, but he earned the respect of many who follow football in South Louisiana, as well as Faulk, who will be suiting up for LSU next year.


“If you probably asked the Faulk kid he would probably say he’s the best kid he’s ever gone up against,” said Sears. “I know he made that comment in the paper after the game. And that’s not to take anything away from the Faulk kid because he’s one of the best offensive linemen I’ve seen in a while.”


Despite the loss to Northshore, Bates helped St. Paul’s advance to the Regional round of the playoffs during his junior campaign where the Wolves season came to an end with a 25-22 loss to Thibodaux. Not including two playoff games, he finished the regular season with 63 tackles (34 solos and 29 assists), including 10 for loss and 14 sacks.


Those are outstanding numbers for a defensive end, but Bates always felt he could have done better.


“We’ll watch film and he’ll have an outstanding game but still feel like he didn’t do very well,” Sears said. “He’s just that type of kid which makes him very coachable.”


Along with being very coachable as Sears put it, Bates has plenty more to offer and that is one reason he has already started attracting interest from BSC-level schools.


“We play him at defensive end because we need him there, but I think he can play linebacker, tight end, fullback, he can really help in a lot of different areas,” said Sears. “I would say his general quickness off the ball is real good and when he makes contact usually the guy he makes contact with is going backwards. He has a real nose for the ball and is relentless.”


“I know he was one of the strongest guys that graded out for us in August,” added Sears. “He’s 500-plus on the squat and over 300 on the bench. I don’t have the exact number, but he’s in the high 300’s on cleans. He’s always working to get better and he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had.”


The work ethic that Bates has and his desire to play major college football have several schools contacting him early in the recruiting process. LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tulane and U-Conn are some of the schools that are inquiring about the standout defender, but his list is growing by the week.


Bates, who lived in Baton Rouge for five years before moving to Madisonville, is being recruited to LSU by Tigers’ special teams coach Joe Robinson. He got a chance to see Robinson a couple of weeks ago when he took in junior day and it gave him a chance to see a side of LSU that he had not yet seen.


“I really liked the facilities and I love the atmosphere over there,” Bates said. “I had never been to camps or anything so this was my first opportunity to go in and see the weight room and all of the other facilities. I enjoyed meeting coach (Tommy) Moffitt (strength and conditioning coach) and seeing everything they had to work with. It was impressive to say the least.”


Bates held LSU in high regard prior to his visit and that stemmed from growing up in South Louisiana along with several trips to Tiger Stadium.


“The atmosphere and the fan base is just crazy,” said Bates, whose last trip to Death Valley was for the Ole Miss game last season. “I like how the coaches and players are with one another and how they always come together. Things got tough last year but they all stuck together. It’s just something about that place.”


Bates is still waiting on his first offer to come his way and he hopes that LSU will be one of the many opportunities he has to move on to the next level.


“I always dreamed of playing there and I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but I want to keep my options open,” he said. “I just want to see some other places to compare LSU to.”


Some of those places that Bates may check out are Oklahoma, Stanford and the other schools that are showing interest.


There will be more schools contacting him in the future and when they do they will find a young man that is very humble, yet very hungry.


“I just want to play college football,” he said. “I just want the opportunity to keep playing.”

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