In Buckeye Empire’s latest Q&A, I spoke with the 2014 4-star, 6-3 218-pound OLB Dillon Bates out of Ponte Vedra High School (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL). Dillon is the son of former Tennessee Volunteers 4-year starter and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates. According to 247sports.com, Dillon has a 91 overall rating, is ranked the 214th best overall player in the country, the 15th best outside linebacker in the country, and the 23rd best overall player in his home state of Florida. Dillon was one of the most intellectual prospects I’ve spoke with, and any college would be getting a player not only committed to working hard on the field, but also striving for perfection in the classroom. Buckeye Nation, get to know this hard-working, highly-regarded 2014 Buckeye target here:
ZC: How’d your junior season at Ponte Vedra go?
DB: It went really good. We made the playoffs, but ended up losing in the first round. We were able to put together a 9-game win streak and felt good about how we played.
ZC: What’s your favorite part about playing outside linebacker? Do you play any offense for Ponte Vedra?
DB: I love how I can be everywhere on the field. I am able to rush the passer as well as take on coverage assignments and provide pass support. The outside linebacker position is a very versatile position, and I love it. I love how I am able to be a leader on the field, essentially the voice and quarterback of the defense. This past season, I played some tight end and fullback. But next year, we may be a little thin and I’ll be able to play a lot more on offense. I’ll play some running back and maybe take some direct snaps in a wildcat-like formation.
ZC: What part of your game do you need to work on the most? What is your biggest strength?
DB: I always want to work on everything. There’s always something I want to get better at, whether it is run reads, pass reads, shedding blocks, or just basic fundamentals. I have the ability to provide leadership on the field and be the voice of the field. I am able to not only be a leader, but also understand that I have a specific job to do.
ZC: Let’s get into your recruitment now. What are the main schools recruiting you currently? Which coaching staffs do you have the best relationships with?
DB: I’d say the main schools recruiting me right now are Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Ohio State. The main staffs that I talk to the most are Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.
ZC: What do you like about Ohio State?
DB: When you think about Ohio State, you think about all the national championships and Heisman trophies that they’ve won. They’ve had so many big games in their history, and I think about how it’d be cool to be a part of it.
ZC: Who is the main coach from Ohio State recruiting you? How often do you speak, and who else do you speak with from Ohio State?
DB: Coach [Tim] Hinton. We speak about twice or once a week. I also call Coach [Urban] Meyer once or twice every week.
ZC: What do you and the coaching staff talk about?
DB: We just talk about how things are going. We talk about school, my training, and how Ohio State is striving to become national champions next year.
ZC: What have been your best college visits so far? Do you plan on visiting Ohio State again or attending one of their camps?
DB: It’s between Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Tennessee. I think I will sometime in the Spring to watch one of their practices and to sit in on some of their linebacker meetings.
ZC: How do you deal with the pressure of the recruiting process and being such a highly touted recruit?
DB: I’ve been fortunate enough to have received a lot of advice on how to deal with the recruiting process. My two older brothers went through it a while back. Now that I know that I will be playing college football, they tell me not to worry about what I’m rated and to just work on getting better every day. They tell me to strive not to just be a good football player, but a great one. They tell me to try to not just be a great football player, but the best. Having that mentality is important to me.
ZC: Do you speak with any other top recruits in the 2014 class? Do you try to recruit anyone to go play with you in college?
DB: I speak with Greg Miclisse a lot. He always tells me, “Man, we gotta play together in college.” We’ll see what happens.
ZC: Did you get a chance to watch the Buckeyes this past season? Which players did you like watching the best?
DB: Oh, yes. I spoke with Coach Meyer, and he said they were a little thin at linebacker, so they had to move a fullback to linebacker [Zach Boren], and he was very, very impressive. Being behind on learning the linebacker position and playing at the level he did was amazing.
ZC: Who’s the best high school player you’ve played against or with?
DB: I played against Tony Steward when I was a freshman. I was starting at linebacker and only weighing like 180 pounds. He was about 6-4, 230 pounds. That was quite the experience.
ZC: Do you plan on attending any Ohio State games in this upcoming season?
DB: Probably, I don’t have too many plans set up as of now.
Role Model: My father. He has learned so much in his career and provides me with unbelievable advice from so many impressive people who have mentored him over the years.
Best Subject in School: Science. I’m taking an anatomy class right now and am thinking of majoring in something like exercise science in college, so I enjoy it.
Hobbies: I like being active, so heading to the beach and playing some sand football with friends is always fun.
Movies: That’s a tough one. I’d say Inception.
TV Shows: Workaholics.
Favorite Sports Teams: Easy- Dallas Cowboys.
Thanks to Dillon for a great interview and taking the time to give Buckeye nation a chance to get to know you. Good luck in the recruiting process and your senior season!
For more Ohio State recruiting updates, follow me on Twitter @BuckeyeEmpireZC