Kaplan's Bates learning new position at Arizona State
Jalen Bates is looking forward to playing his freshman year at Arizona State this football season.
Jalen Bates has played defensive end most of his high school career. It was a position he was good at and ranked in the top 50 nationally after high school. Now, he has a new defensive position to learn - outside linebacker.
Bates, a Kaplan resident, was back home last week for a couple of weeks. He is leaving this week to go back to Arizona State. Last year, in his first year at Arizona State, he practiced with the team and dressed out along the sideline for home games but never played because he was red shirted his first year.
When he returns to Arizona State, Bates has a challenge heading into the season.
Three weeks ago, Arizona State Head Coach Todd Graham moved Bates, who is a 2015 Kaplan High graduate, from defensive end to outside linebacker.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound freshman is now having to learn a new position. Coach Graham made the move because he switched his defense from a traditional 4-3 defense (four down linemen) to a new 3-4 (four linebackers) heading into the 2016 season.
“I’m trying to make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker,” said Bates. “I’m trying to make that switch and get comfortable in a two-point stance instead of a three-point stance.”
Bates will no longer be over the offensive tackle. He will be on the outside and will flow with the football. His job will be to get to the football as quick as possible. His job is to stop the running game and also do his best to stop the pass play.
“There is a lot more to learn like coverage plays,” he said. “I have to learn when to drop back. That is going to be the hardest part. Other than that, I will rush the passer a lot. I enjoy doing that.”
Bates said because of his height and his speed, (he runs a 4.6 40-meter dash time), he will do well as an outside linebacker. “Playing outside linebacker will compliment my skills,” he said.
Heading into the season, Bates was projected to be No. 2 on the debt chart at defensive end. He was not sure where on the debt chart he ranks as an outside linebacker because the move just occurred.
With a good chance of seeing playing time, Bates is looking forward to getting on the football field. He is also looking forward to traveling and playing in big stadiums.
The Devils travel to Los Angeles to play USC and Colorado to play the Colorado Buffaloes. Arizona State is also playing the Oregon Ducks in Oregon.
Arizona State, who posted a 6-7 overall record last year, opens the season against Northern Arizona on Sept. 3.
Bates did well his first year at Arizona State. He finished with around a 2.7 grade point average. He lived on campus in a dorm.
“I’m looking forward to getting back and learning everything I have to learn to make me a better football player,” Bates added.