John Bates, a 2016 graduate of Lebanon High School, was chosen in the fourth round of the National Football League draft on Saturday by Washington.
A 6-foot-6, 256-pound tight end, Bates was the 124th overall selection.
Bates was a standout athlete at Lebanon High and never made any secret of his ultimate ambition, said LHS Athletic Director Kraig Hoene.
“Just a tremendous story. A kid who just said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.’ He just worked until he got there. The passion, the drive to be who he wanted to be was amazing,” Hoene said. “John’s never had any other goal, to my knowledge.”
Bates attended Nyssa High School in eastern Oregon for his freshman and sophomore years. He made an immediate impression after moving to Lebanon with his family.
As a junior, he was named the boys athlete of the meet at the 2015 OSAA State Track and Field Championships. Bates claimed state titles in the javelin and the high hurdles, placed second in the triple jump and was fourth in the long jump.
Those accomplishments helped the Warriors take home the 5A boys team championship.
His opportunity to meet or exceed that haul as a senior was cut short when he suffered an injury during his first event at the 2016 state championships.
Bates also became a key player in the football program with his skill as a blocker and pass catcher.
He drew the attention of recruiters and after initially committing to attend Oregon State, he fulfilled a dream by attending Boise State. He cheered for the Broncos as a child growing up in eastern Oregon and also had family ties to the university, Hoene said.
“John is a goal-oriented kid. I have no doubt he’ll have success at the next level,” Hoene said. “He’ll work until he does. That’s just what John does.”
To the best of Hoene’s knowledge, Bates is the fourth player from Lebanon High to be drafted into the NFL.
The first was defensive back Eric Castle, who went from Lebanon to the University of Oregon and was taken in the 6th round of the 1993 draft by San Diego.
Brothers Pat and Paul McQuistan graduated from LHS and then attended Weber State University together. They both went on to successful careers as offensive lineman after being drafted in 2006. Pat McQuistan was selected in the third round by Oakland and Paul McQuistan was a seventh-round pick by Dallas.
Bates is not the only mid-valley high school graduate to be selected in this year’s draft. Talanoa Hufanga, a Crescent Valley alumnus who played for the University of Southern California (USC) was picked in the fifth round by San Francisco.