The postseason is in full swing throughout the high school football world. It's a time when prospects vie for league, district and state crowns. It is also when recruiting usually takes a back seat. Ryan Bates is no different from the large lot of players whose definition of a late-November road trip is when the bus rolls out for another Friday or Saturday tilt.
A 6-foot-5, 280-pound Class of 2015 offensive tackle from Philadelphia Archbishop Wood, Bates has already locked up a Philadelphia Catholic League title and District 12 crown with the Vikings this fall. Now awaits a PIAA AAA quarterfinal matchup with whoever wins Pennsylvania's District 1 title (more on that later).
Until that run ends, it will be the sole focus of the three-star prospect, save for some phone calls and Facebook messages here and there. Staying focused has been a key for Bates and his team during this successful season.
"We spend so much time in the weight room, and that's one of the most important things," Bates said. "We watch a lot of film, and I think we work very hard.
"I've played right tackle all year, and I've been very happy so far with my performances. I feel like I've stepped up my game, improved my pass blocking and run blocking. I've been doing so much better than last year."
Penn State is showing the most interest, Bates reported, which should come as no surprise considering the tackle has visited University Park four times in his recruitment -- including earlier this fall to see the Lions downEastern Michigan. He has an offer from the Lions.
South Carolina, a program Bates saw firsthand last summer, has also been in frequent contact.
A new program, Notre Dame, has been showing more interest of late, and the junior said he hopes the Fighting Irish one day extend an offer. Duke is among the programs that actually did offer recently.
Penn State's early overtures stand out to him.
"It means a lot to know they are really interested in me," Bates said. "I can't really explain how much it means. It just feels good.
"I have been keeping up on Penn State, and they're having a decent season so far, and doing pretty good. I haven't watch most of their games because my games are the same time, but from what I know, they're doing pretty good."
Defensive coordinator John Butler is Bates' main contact for Penn State.
"I love Coach Butler," Bates said. "He's a great guy to talk to. Real easy going and he's the kind of person you can sit down and have a full conversation with and not feel any tension.
"With other coaches, there's tension, like, ‘What am I going to say?' and I wonder if I will mess up. He's just a real great guy."
Bates doesn't foresee any more opportunities to take visits this fall, but plans to hit programs in the winter and spring. The tackle said he envisions making a decision sometime in the spring but likely no later than June. Eleven programs have offered to date.
A state title run will by no means be easy, but fortunate placement pits undefeated District 9 champ Clearfield and unbeaten District 2 champ Berwick in a likely quarterfinal matchup on the other side of the top half of the bracket. Wood will face either Academy Park or Glen Mills in the quarters, and should it win will then get one of the unbeaten powers in the semifinals.
"Honestly, I think we can go all the way to the state championship," Bates said. "With the way we're playing right now, and the roll we're on, honestly, I think we can go that far."