The 6-foot-5, 282-pound tackle had already visited Penn State three times in this calendar year, and has seen everything from the football facilities to the academics the school has to offer to the way its coaches teach. Those experiences came not only during his trek for the April's Blue-White Game, but also a camp visit in June and an unofficial stop in July.
Saturday, he was able to experience Beaver Stadium for a live game for the first time, making his fourth trip one of the most intriguing ones yet. A June offer stoked the flames of his already present interest in the Lions.
"It was pretty cool. What stood out to me was how much time [Penn State quarterback Christian] Hackenberg had to throw. He had a lot of time," Bates said. "I really like them so far. They and South Carolina are my top ones right now."
An emphasis has been placed on offensive tackles in the Class of 2015, and Bates is right at the front of a board that includes five other tackles claiming a Penn State offer. He visited Saturday with a duo of Wood teammates — classmate and linebacker Jake Cooper and Class of 2014 offensive tackle Deion Oliver.
A chat with line coach Mac McWhorter and head coach Bill O'Brien impressed the tackle, who also held in high regard the atmosphere inside Beaver Stadium during the game. Even if it wasn't his first choice of games to attend.
Rather, State's October clash with Michigan was the game Bates had originally eyed for a visit. That's until he realized his Vikings play Lansdale (Pa.) Catholic the same day.
"It was pretty cool when they came over. I felt kind of special, because they came over and just started talking to me, and took time out of their day right before the game to do so," Bates said. "I didn't expect to talk to Coach O'Brien. He just came over and started talking to Jake and I for a brief couple of seconds, and that was kind of cool."
Archbishop Wood is a perfect 2-0 two weeks into its 2013 season, a start that has plenty to do with Bates and the rest of the Vikings' linemen. To date, Wood rushers are averaging 6.89 yards per carry and have found the end zone six times.
Bates is happy about the way his season has started, but admitted he still has plenty of things to work on as it progresses deeper into the fall. A headline match-up of sorts comes Oct. 5, when Archbishop Wood will take on St. Joseph (Pa.) Prep, which features another Penn State target in defensive back John Reid.
Like most recruits, the high school football calendar will dictate what other visits the junior is able to make. A return trip to University Park hasn't been ruled out, nor has a trip to Rutgers or South Carolina. The Gamecocks, he added, offer a similar pitch to what the Lions are selling.
"Both colleges have great coaching staffs, and both have great people and guys to talk to," Bates said. "They both have one of the best looking campuses I've ever seen, and they both have good coaching and football legacies."