February 9, 2007

Spartans need Bates to step up

The following article is reprinted from a recent issue of SPARTAN Magazine. We will be running SPARTAN Magazine stories on selected members of the incoming recruiting class on SpartanMag.com today as part of national letter of intent signing day:

New Concord High School is located about five miles down the road from where Mark Dantonio grew up and played prep football at Zanesville High School.

Most of the top football players come out of John Glenn and the surrounding areas end up at Division II or Division III schools. The last time a player from John Glenn High earned a scholarship to a BCS Conference school was back in 1997. A decade later, John Glenn High School will be sending one of its finest players to the Big Ten to play for Dantonio at Michigan State, in athletic punter Aaron Bates.

For the past four years, John Glenn coach John Kelley has watched Bates do amazing thing with the football as a punter and a kicker in his program. And Bates' live leg is one of the big reasons why the Muskies have made playoff appearances this year and last. Now Kelley, will have the chance to watch one of his players on television Saturdays.

"I know this sounds strange, but there are a lot that came to our games just to watch Aaron kick," explained Kelley. "We have good special teams coaches, but with a kicker like him there is not too much you can instruct him to do because he has such a meticulous work ethic and he is just so good at what he does."

A four-year starter for John Glenn, Bates has never had a season in which his punting average was under 40 yards. As a senior, Bates averaged a shade under 45 yards per punt, while handling all placekicking duties as well as starting on offense and defense.

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