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March 16, 2013
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It's in his bloodlines.
Ponte Vedra linebacker Dillon Bates started playing football at an early age and never stopped thanks to his dad, former Dallas Cowboy great Bill Bates, who earned three Super Bowl rings and won the Tom Landry Legend Award in 2011.
"I don't remember a time when I didn't know football or didn't love football," said the junior, who is rated the No. 58 overall prospect in the country according to Rivals. "Growing up with my dad playing, then coaching, made me want to strive to be where my dad was at the time."
Bill Bates, who is tied with two other players for the most seasons playing in a Cowboys uniform (15), was known as the team's hardest hitter at the University of Tennessee. The younger Bates models his game after him.
"So many people have told me about my dad's drive, about how he never stopped bettering himself," he added. "I get that mentality from him, and to not take a rep or play off because it could be your last."
Approximately 35 schools, including Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are in the mix for the 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect, who benches 315 pounds, squats 500-plus and runs a 4.5 in the 40.
"Defense is in his blood," said head coach Mike Lloyd, who played in the NFL and CFL for eight seasons and has seen and coached his share of NFL-caliber players. "His Dad was the greatest special teams' player ever and he's like his Dad. You have to run him out of the weight room."
This past season, Bates averaged 6.3 tackles per game, had eight tackles for a loss, and had three interceptions, including one for a score.
"He wants to be great and that's what separates him," added Lloyd, who also noted that Bates is a great student and high character person. "He has that drive."
Bates will be attending the Rivals Camp Series Presented by Under Armour next weekend in Orlando.
"I feel I have the ability to play sideline to sideline, but more importantly is my IQ for the game," he said. "I am a student of the game and I need to know everything about it to help me and my team the most."