After graduating All-American running back and UCLA commit Maurice Drew, De La Salle will reload at the position with Jackie Bates (5-10, 185), who had a pretty decent junior year backing up Drew, rushing for 747 yards and 15 touchdowns. Now, its his show.
"I've waited for my turn, now it's my chance to show what I can do," Bates said. "But most importantly, I want to help my team win another championship."
Bates' stock has really improved after a very impressive showing at the NorCal Nike Camp last month. Bates ran a very fast 4.35 in the 40 and 4.09 in the shuttle, did 19 reps on the bench and jumped 38 inches in the vertical. His 40 and shuttle times were among the best of the day, and his vertical was indeed the best.
"Ever since the Nike Camp, recruiting has really picked up," he said. " I think I impressed a lot of people there. Even though we didn't have pads on, I really think I did well," Bates said.
"I have offers from Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Colorado State, Oregon, Oregon State and UNLV," he said. "Oregon is my top school right now, but UCLA stands out, too. And Cal asks me, "Why go away for school when you can play here?' Those are my top three."
Following in Drew's footsteps at De La Salle, Bates counts him as one of his closest friends, and Drew is recruiting him. "Maurice tells me all the time to come down and play with him at UCLA. He says, ‘We won national championships in high school, come down here and we can win a national championship at UCLA'. He thinks it would be great to go to school together."
There has been speculation about whether it'd be smart for Bates to follow Drew to UCLA, since both are running backs. But De La Salle's assistant head coach Terry Eidson recently told Greg Biggins of TheInsiders that running back might not be where Bates projects in college. "I think cornerback is his best college position," Eidson said. "When I first saw him this past spring, I couldn't believe how much faster he looked."
Not only is Drew recruiting Bates to UCLA, but one of UCLA's best recruiters, assistant coach Jon Embree, is assigned to Bates' recruitment. Bates said, "Coach Embree is a real straight-forward guy. I can see his excitement in coaching there and in recruiting. He says he would love for me to be a Bruin. I respect the guy."
Bates's uncle told Biggins that UCLA had hinted they could offer Bates a scholarship at UCLA's Junior Day, but Bates wasn't able to make the trip.
When it comes to a time frame for a decision, Bates said he's in no hurry. "I know some players at De La Salle have committed early, and some have waited. I think I want to take my visits, unless one just blows me away."
For now, Bates is focusing on keeping "The Streak" alive. "I've worked my butt off for my senior year. I want to carry on the tradition of great running backs at De La Salle."
He has a 2.7 GPA and took the SAT June 7th.