Dillon Bates, one of the nation's top 2014 linebackers, announced his commitment to the University of Tennessee at halftime of one the tournament games at The Opening 2013. He is the third-best linebacker in the country, according to Rivals.
ESPNU made the risky decision to put Vol Nation on hold, airing Bates' announcement 10 minutes after he actually made it, and it didn't pay off. Fans were celebrating long before they saw it after the tape delay:
— Daniel Hudson (@daniel3417) July 4, 2013
The Opening is a Nike-sponsored camp for the nation's top high school prospects. An invitation to the camp is an achievement unto itself, and standing out is truly remarkable. Bates is one that has stood out.
One of the camp's events is an NFL Combine day. At the "combine," Bates ran a 4.5-second 40 and had a 39.8-inch vertical jump—both tops among the 20 linebackers. The Volunteers are obviously ecstatic to have such an athlete.
Bates narrowed his decision down to Tennessee, Florida and Alabama, but he was one of those prospects who could've gone anywhere he pleased.
A panel of 49 recruiting analysts from 247sports.com correctly predicted (unanimously) that Bates would pick the Vols. Part of the reason they may have believed that is because he is the son of Vol legacy Bill Bates, who played under Johnny Majors from 1979 to 1982.
Bill Bates made his way in college and the NFL as a hard-nosed, team-first player. Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry once said, "If we had 11 players on the field who played as hard as Bill Bates does and did their homework like he does, we’d be almost impossible to beat."
The younger Bates may have some work before he is considered as gritty as his father, but he is undoubtedly a more physically talented high school prospect. If that competitive streak that Bill Bates had is hereditary, Dillon could be one of the best linebackers for the Vols since Al Wilson.
Bates' commitment on Wednesday night marked the fourth Vol legacy of the 2014 class (Todd Kelly Jr., Vic Wharton and Neiko Creamer). Eric Berry's twin brothers remain uncommitted.