With the Gator Bowl fast approaching, Northwestern's opponent, Mississippi State, extended a scholarship offer to Bates. Now, the standout linebacker may have two teams to visit.
However, Mississippi State and Northwestern are just two of 21 scholarship offers for Bates, so he has a lot on the table.
"I really need to slow it down, look at each school individually, and see what I like about it and what I don't like about it," said Bates.
Bates, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound linebacker, holds offers from Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia, Wake Forest, and others.
Looking ahead, Bates hopes to narrow down his list of suitors. For now, he's just enjoying the process.
"You've really got to take everything in and be thankful for all the opportunities that are opening up," said Bates. "You can't take it for granted. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm being open-minded and taking it all in."
As the brother of a current Wildcat, Bates is prepared to consider how Northwestern won over Hunter. The greatest influence with NU is its academic prestige.
"That's one of the top things that stands out, is a great education," he said. "You're not going to play football forever. When it ends, with a Northwestern education, you can definitely get somewhere."
In picking the right school, Bates is considering what life without football could hold.
"Somehow, someway, if football ends suddenly, I'd still want to be at that school anyway," he said of the ideal school. "I want to have the passion to support that team, play for that team, and win for that team."
Most important for Bates, though: "I just want to go out and find the place that I feel most comfortable."