Playing in the trenches, Tylertown (Miss.) junior Oliver Bates has the two normal goals on his offseason agenda. And the 6-foot-3 and 270-pound Bates plans to put those goals into action later this spring.
"I started at left tackle last year and played some at defensive tackle, too," said Bates. "I feel like I improved a lot last year and improved my pass blocking and my drive blocking. I really focused hard on my pass protections last year and this offseason. Since we finished up last year, I just been working on getting quicker and stronger and making sure I finish off plays every snap. And I want to keep doing that in spring ball."
Also this spring, Bates has been drawing recruiting interest from several Division 1 programs and has manage to take some unofficial visits.
"I am getting interest and letters from Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and a few from LSU," said Bates. "I have visited Mississippi State and Southern Miss and I am going back to Southern Miss next week, too. Southern Miss has been recruiting me pretty hard and they are always inviting me down there and they have a good program.
"And it's been a wonderful experience being able to see these schools. Growing up, I didn't go to many campuses so it is still kinda new to me and I am loving it."
Those good experiences included unofficially visiting Mississippi State late last week.
"It was wonderful and they have a beautiful campus," said Bates. "I liked their intensity in practice and I enjoyed meeting with the coaches. It is great how they stress academics and want you to hit the books before football. That is very important to me and we discussed academics a lot on my visit.
"They are recruiting me as an offensive lineman. They want me back for other visits and I know I am going back for one of their summer camps."