Every year there is a story about how a good player who could make it in the NFL falls though the crack and last year it was no different with Kansas State's FS Derrick Yates.
Last year Yates was ranked as one of the better FS going into the NFL Draft and even had a profile on NFL.com Yates attended Booker T. Washington (Houston, Texas) High where he was a three-year starter for the Eagles While at Booker T. Washington he earned All-District 18-5A honors three years, and was a first-team All-Greater Houston pick in 1997 and second-team All-State pick in 1997. Yates has the ability to play corner, free and strong safety.
After high school Yates went to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, where he was a two-year starter for the Red Ravens and earned first-team All-Jayhawk Conference honors in 1999. Then Yates decided to go to Kansas State University for his junior and senior season.
"When I was being recruited out of JUCO Kansas State was the school that showed the most interest, they game to my home and meet my family in Houston and showed me that they really wanted me to go and play there," said Yates. "My girlfriend and my family was around there and the coaches where really cool so I decided to go to KSU."
Yates first season at Kansas State he was named Big 12 Conference Defensive Newcomer of the Year. He played in 10 games, starting vs. Ball State, Iowa State and Missouri at free safety. He finished the season with 29 tackles (21 solos) and six pass deflections. In 2001 Yates played in every game, starting at free safety vs. Texas A&M and Kansas before shifting to strong safety for the final four contests He had 36 tackles, 24 solos with 10 pass deflections and two interceptions and also recovered a fumble.
Yates wasn't drafted or did get a look as an undrafted rookie free-agent despite the fact at his Pro Day in 2002 he put up so good work out numbers. He ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, had a 29½-inch vertical jump, did 260-pound bench press, 685-pound safe squat, 231-pound hang clean, 7.1 percent body fat, 32-inch arm length, and 9¼-inch hands.
"The things about last year even if I would have gotten drafted or got a chance in camp I wasn't ready mentally or physical, I didn't prepare myself like I should have. I learned that now, I see this now as a gift," said Yates. "I'm more then ready now, I love to play football. I love being around the game, it's not about the money I just want to still play."
Well at this year Kansas State Pro Day Yates got another chance to shine for the scouts, and he but up some very good numbers. He dropped his 40 times down to a 4.50, up his vertical jump to 32 inches did a broad jump of 10' 9'' and did 225, 10 times.
"This past year I was working at a grade school with special kids I would go to work out every day after work. I would do the drills that we learned at Kansas State and the drills we would be doing at the Pro Day so that I could get a chance to this year to get a tryout," said Yates.
Yates has a chance to get a free-agent tryout this year with some team and all 32 teams where at Kansas State Pro Day. The teams that showed the most interest in him where the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, New York Jets, and Detroit Lions. Yates is an instinctive player who takes good angles to the ball, who is very effective being used as the eighth man in the box. He stays low in his stance and drives with his legs to rock the ball carriers back in run support. He breaks sharply on the ball and shows good change-of-direction agility working in the zone.
"If I can get into a camp I think I will have the ability to show the coaches something because of my speed. Speed kills, my coach from JUCO told me that I can make it far with my speed and I believe that," Yates said.