Last spring, Lebanon High School track and field coach Josh Dykes said the Oregon State football staff was “out of their minds” for not taking a look at John Bates.
Bates, a three-sport athlete who helped the Warriors win their first track state title in May, wound up making an impression on head coach Gary Andersen and staff during OSU’s June camp.
The Beavers extended an offer to Bates at the camp, and the 6-foot-6, 210-pound tight end prospect verbally committed to the program on July 26.
“They were really interested in me and offered in June, and as the month went on I kept my options open,” said Bates, who believes he will only play football for the Beavers. “Then I had a great time on my official visit, and I’ve really been thinking hard about it the last month and made up my mind this week. I talked to Andersen on the phone (Monday) and told him I wanted to commit.”
Bates said he chose OSU because of the coaches and the campus environment.
He said Andersen, offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin and graduate assistant Brian Wozniak were his main recruiters, and added that OSU’s coaches want him to enter the 2016 fall camp at or above 230 pounds.
“John is a kid with great integrity and great work ethic,” Lebanon football coach Ty Tomlin said. “The kiddo wants to be great, and he puts in the time and effort. John wants to know why we do what we do and why we run what we run, and wants to know how he fits into all that. John loves that part of the game, and that’s what it takes to play in the Pac-12.”
Bates, currently unranked by Rivals.com, attended Nyssa High in eastern Oregon for two years before moving to Lebanon last August for his junior year.
As a junior, Bates was a first-team all-Mid-Willamette Conference pick at wideout and received honorable mention in basketball. He was the boys athlete of the meet at the 5A state track championships.
Bates won state titles in the javelin (194 feet, 2 inches) and 110-meter hurdles (14.65 seconds) while placing second in the triple jump (43-7½) and fourth in the long jump (20-7¾).
“John has an unbelievable ability to pick up on technique and institute it immediately,” Dykes said. “We saw it in the javelin. One of our assistant coaches gave him a little queue, and he picked it up and PR’d by 30 feet. Another example: two weeks before state I asked John if he ever thought about triple jumping. He’d never done it before, and two weeks later he’s the state runner-up in the event.
“He just has an ability to pick stuff up kinesthetically and do it immediately. That, along with the obvious size and athleticism, is what I think makes this a winning situation for him and for OSU.”
Bates was also receiving interest from Boise State and Wyoming, but indicated he is solid with OSU.
Tomlin said Bates will play defensive end and more tight end for the Warriors this fall.
“We’re going to move him around and watch him improve,” Tomlin said. “It’ll be good for John to say ‘this is what I’m going to do in college, and that’s what I need to do now.’”
Bates is the ninth member of the Beavers’ 2016 recruiting class, joining wide receivers Trevon Bradford (Oregon City), Javonte Ferguson (Jacksonville, Florida) and Tyson Penn (Bellevue, Washington), defensive backs Emony Robinson (Gresham), Mason Moran (Chandler, Arizona) and Michael Johnson (Walnut, California), running back Artavis Pierce (Auburndale, Florida) and defensive end Joah Robinett (San Marcos, California).
“It’s kind of relief to be done,” Bates said. “I don’t have to worry about the recruiting process anymore. It can be a stressful thing, but now it’s nice.”