Tennessee Volunteers: Lead Growing for Dillon Bates?

By Patrick Schmidt
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee is widely viewed as the overwhelming favorite to land outside linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl. Ponte Vedra) who could be announcing his decision at Nike’s The Opening at the end of June or early July.

Bates is the son of former Volunteer Bill Bates, and after visiting Tennessee frequently this spring, the Vols are well out in front because of how they can meet his needs and the natural fit it provides. In comments made to 247Sports.com’s Ryan Callahan, “Having been there, like, three times this spring, I’ve kind of got a good chance to see almost everything, and, really, everything that they have to offer really fits what I’m looking for in a school and in a program itself, too,” Bates said.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a foregone conclusion that the Bates legacy will continue in Knoxville. Last week Bates issued the top five schools for him at the moment, but later clarified and said that this list is not indicative of his finalists as he is waiting to visit Notre Dame and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones was the first to contact Bates during the spring evaluation period and got him on the phone right at 8 a.m. He explained to him the new “brick-by-brick” philosophy and mindset being indoctrinated through the program. Even though Bates is unable to attend the Orange and White spring game on Saturday because of his Prom, his father will be in attendance and undoubtedly getting the recruiting pitch from Jones, his staff and potentially 70,000 fans at Neyland Stadium.

If Tennessee doesn’t secure a commitment from Bates this summer or when he does decide that the time is right for him to commit, then it would be synonymous with David slaying Goliath. However, the one that could take down the giant is Alabama where Bates told 247Sports’ Ryan Callahan the recent success is something you can’t look past.

“Alabama, being probably the winningest program in the past four to five years, is really intriguing. I’m looking forward to visiting there soon. We were about to visit a few weeks ago, but we couldn’t make it. But I think we’re trying to reschedule a visit to there.”

While Alabama certainly has a lot to offer to any high school recruit, they can’t offer him the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, which is something only unique to Tennessee. In the end, I think that is the reason why Bates will commit to Tennessee later this summer.

The four-star outside linebacker ranks as the No. 10 player at his position according to 247Sports.com and has accumulated 168 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions the last two seasons.

Patrick’s a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your Google network.

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