Bates: 'It's the place that I want to be'

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — Dillon Bates knew weeks ago where he wanted to play his college football. On Wednesday, he went public with that choice — Tennessee.

The FOX Sports NEXT four-star outside linebacker makes the Volunteers' 18th verbal commitment of the 2014 class. He chose the Big Orange over finalists Alabama and Florida.

"I've known for a few months it's kind of the place I want to be, just sitting down with my family and really talking about it," Bates told InsideTennessee. "We just kind of came to the conclusion that it's the place that's most comfortable to me. It's the place that I want to be. It's the place that I've always really wanted to be. I'm just happy to kind of have it out now."

Running through the T inside Neyland Stadium and donning the traditional jersey for the Orange & White is right around the corner for the son of former Vol Bill Bates. The newest commit can hardly wait.

"That was another big thing in my decision — somewhere that I want to play for and have that passion and get goose bumps every time I'm on the field," Dillon Bates said. "That's one of the places that, at the game, I'd always get goose bumps. That's one of those places that if I got those goose bumps, I knew it'd be a place I wanted to be. It's going to be awesome."

In spite of being the son of a former Vol and a former Tennessee cheerleader, his parents allowed Bates to make his own decision.

"From the very beginning, they told me no pressure and just to go wherever I feel the most comfortable. It just so happens, the most comfortable place for me is Tennessee," he said.

First-year head coach Butch Jones hadn't been employed in Knoxville even 48 hours when he made contact with Bates to let him know what he means to the future of the program, even though closing out the 2013 signing class and holding onto commitments chewed up Jones' time and energy as well.

"It really meant a lot," said Bates, who visited Rocky Top no less than four times since November. "The coaching staff has really done a great job with recruiting. They have really gone above and beyond of what their expectation has been. I'm just really impressed with what they've done and how they've taken things — coming in on a short notice and really putting together two great classes."

The Vols are well on their way to signing a top 10 class nationally with hopes to ink 28-29 prospects.

"It's been a great class so far," the Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High School star said. "Again, that's all on the coaching staff and what they've done in such a short period of time, just putting out what they have to offer. Once people step on campus they know it's the place they want to go to."

Tennessee is scheduled to graduate eight linebackers after the 2013 season. Committed alongside Bates in the 'backer corps are Gavin Bryant, Jerome Dews and Christopher Weatherd.

"I was actually just talking to Chris a little while ago, just texting back and forth," said Bates, rated the No. 13 outside linebacker in the country. "Everybody in this class just has a great relationship with each other, which is another thing that (I like). I'm going into somewhere that I know all of the commits, I know all the recruits and I'm going to feel comfortable with them too."

The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder made his declaration on television while working out at The Opening on Nike Headquarters.

He clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time during SPARQ competition.

"I've been really working hard in the offseason, just everyday working on my speed, working on my agility," he said. "I was hoping to get in the 4.5s but that low 4.51. I was trying to get into the 4.4s and that would have been golden but you know 4.51 I'm happy with and I'm just happy that I got to show it here."

The Ponte Vedra Sharks open their season versus Nease on Aug. 30. A ring is in Bates' dreams. Now that he has his pledge out of the way, he can concentrate on that journey.

"Focus on my team, focus on my senior year. I kind of wanted to get it out of the way and be able to focus on my senior season. Then, try to go far in the playoffs and get a state championship."

Bates is slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He does not yet know if he will be a midyear guy and start his career at Tennessee in January.

"I don't know. I'll have to talk to them and the coaches and see what they want to do."

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the FOX Sports NEXT team July 2011.
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","mobileBody":"BEAVERTON, Ore. — Dillon Bates knew weeks ago where he wanted to play his college football. On Wednesday, he went public with that choice — Tennessee.

The FOX Sports NEXT four-star outside linebacker makes the Volunteers' 18th verbal commitment of the 2014 class. He chose the Big Orange over finalists Alabama and Florida.

\"I've known for a few months it's kind of the place I want to be, just sitting down with my family and really talking about it,\" Bates told InsideTennessee. \"We just kind of came to the conclusion that it's the place that's most comfortable to me. It's the place that I want to be. It's the place that I've always really wanted to be. I'm just happy to kind of have it out now.\"

Running through the T inside Neyland Stadium and donning the traditional jersey for the Orange & White is right around the corner for the son of former Vol Bill Bates. The newest commit can hardly wait.

\"That was another big thing in my decision — somewhere that I want to play for and have that passion and get goose bumps every time I'm on the field,\" Dillon Bates said. \"That's one of the places that, at the game, I'd always get goose bumps. That's one of those places that if I got those goose bumps, I knew it'd be a place I wanted to be. It's going to be awesome.\"

In spite of being the son of a former Vol and a former Tennessee cheerleader, his parents allowed Bates to make his own decision.

\"From the very beginning, they told me no pressure and just to go wherever I feel the most comfortable. It just so happens, the most comfortable place for me is Tennessee,\" he said.

First-year head coach Butch Jones hadn't been employed in Knoxville even 48 hours when he made contact with Bates to let him know what he means to the future of the program, even though closing out the 2013 signing class and holding onto commitments chewed up Jones' time and energy as well.

\"It really meant a lot,\" said Bates, who visited Rocky Top no less than four times since November. \"The coaching staff has really done a great job with recruiting. They have really gone above and beyond of what their expectation has been. I'm just really impressed with what they've done and how they've taken things — coming in on a short notice and really putting together two great classes.\"

The Vols are well on their way to signing a top 10 class nationally with hopes to ink 28-29 prospects.

\"It's been a great class so far,\" the Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High School star said. \"Again, that's all on the coaching staff and what they've done in such a short period of time, just putting out what they have to offer. Once people step on campus they know it's the place they want to go to.\"

Tennessee is scheduled to graduate eight linebackers after the 2013 season. Committed alongside Bates in the 'backer corps are Gavin Bryant, Jerome Dews and Christopher Weatherd.

\"I was actually just talking to Chris a little while ago, just texting back and forth,\" said Bates, rated the No. 13 outside linebacker in the country. \"Everybody in this class just has a great relationship with each other, which is another thing that (I like). I'm going into somewhere that I know all of the commits, I know all the recruits and I'm going to feel comfortable with them too.\"

The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder made his declaration on television while working out at The Opening on Nike Headquarters.

He clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time during SPARQ competition.

\"I've been really working hard in the offseason, just everyday working on my speed, working on my agility,\" he said. \"I was hoping to get in the 4.5s but that low 4.51. I was trying to get into the 4.4s and that would have been golden but you know 4.51 I'm happy with and I'm just happy that I got to show it here.\"

The Ponte Vedra Sharks open their season versus Nease on Aug. 30. A ring is in Bates' dreams. Now that he has his pledge out of the way, he can concentrate on that journey.

\"Focus on my team, focus on my senior year. I kind of wanted to get it out of the way and be able to focus on my senior season. Then, try to go far in the playoffs and get a state championship.\"

Bates is slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He does not yet know if he will be a midyear guy and start his career at Tennessee in January.

\"I don't know. I'll have to talk to them and the coaches and see what they want to do.\"

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