It’s Ryan Bates week at Black Shoe Diaries and with good reason.
How He Got Here
Four star Ryan Bates was recruited as one of the top five prospects in Pennsylvania, from Archbishop Wood. Ranked the 13th-best offensive tackle in the nation and 129th overall prospect by ESPN, Bates helped lead his high school to a State Championship. At 6’4” and then-275 lbs, Bates has bulked up to an impressive 305lbs under the watchful eye of Penn State strength trainers, still maintaining his speed and agility.
As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Bates was an immediate asset to the offensive line, starting at left guard (an unfamiliar position for Bates), and later left tackle. Starting all 14 games, Bates didn’t miss a beat at either position, highlighting his versatility and athleticsm.
His 2016 performance garnered Bates plenty of recognition. At the end of the season, he was named to the Athlon Sports All Conference second team, and selected as a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of American and USA Today. Bates was also named to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team and the BTN.com and ESPN.com All-Big Ten Freshman Teams, just to name a few.
So how’d he do it? Like this:
In the Temple game, Bates was part of an offensive line that didn’t allow a single sack.
Against Purdue, we all remember the Saquon Barkley 81 yard run for a touchdown. What you should also remember is that Bates ran ahead of Barkley, cutting from left guard to the right, then sprinted downfield to keep up with Barkley to provide backup, just in case - later joining him in the endzone for a touchdown celebration.
At Indiana, Bates started at left guard before seamlessly moving to the left tackle position after an injured Paris Palmer left the game.
Against Rutgers, Bates, with Mike Gesicki, did a nice job opening a slot for Andre Robinson's touchdown run.
Nice job by Ryan Bates and Mike Gesicki to open up a nice path on Andre Robinson's touchdown run. pic.twitter.com/sNKXgOxrSZ— Greg Pickel (@GregPickel) November 20, 2016
In the Big 10 Championship game against Wisconsin, Bates gave up no sacks and effortlessly chopped Vince Biegel into the ground.
I love this Penn State LT more and more every time I watch him..— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) May 3, 2017
Ryan Bates - Freshman All-American pic.twitter.com/poa0r2AO8Q
See more film on Bates here. That should hold you over until September.
What to Expect in 2017
As a veteran offensive lineman, Bates will be a crucial leader for the line and the team, and could start either at left guard or left tackle, after proving last year that he can move easily between positions with great success. And expect to see his name on more award lists, because he can only continue to get better (and bigger) from here.