Welcome to Black Shoe Diaries' coverage of National Signing Day 2015. We're here to make sure that you know exactly who the newest Nittany Lions are, where they come from, and what we can expect of them. Each of these reports will include their vital information, their high school statistics, highlight tape analysis, outlook for their freshmen seasons and more. We sincerely hope you enjoy getting to know the stars of tomorrow. If you've been reading along with our recruiting coverage all year, we appreciate the support and are glad you hung around with us for the ride that was the 2015 recruiting class. If you are a new reader, welcome! We're glad you're here, and we hope you stick around for 2016!
To navigate your way to other members of the 2015 recruiting class, simply head back to our draft board and click on the player of your choice.
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Sometimes, recruiting can be tough. It can be a battle between multiple schools to lock up the services of a player, especially when said player is a highly-regarded prospect. That was not the case with Ryan Bates. The offensive lineman came to Penn State's Junior Day on Feb. 15, 2014. He committed later that day. For a staff that has fought a ton of battles with other schools to lock up recruits, it had to have been nice to grab a young man at a big position of need without much of a fight from anyone else.
O-Lineman @52batesryan is next up to join the #PSUFBFamily! #PSUSigningDay pic.twitter.com/BOceuvpEB8— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) February 4, 2015
Hometown: Warminster, PA
High School: Archbishop Wood
Position: Offensive Tackle
247Composite Rank: ★★★★ (0.9281)
Positional Rank: #12 Offensive Tackle, #4 Player in Pennsylvania
Commitment Date: February 15, 2014
247Sports Crystal Ball:
High School Stats
Due to his position, there are no statistics available for Bates.
Power, power, power. Ryan Bates is the definition of a power blocker, and one who should be a human bulldozer for Penn State running backs for years to come. Playing for Pennsylvania powerhouse, Archbishop Wood, Bates faced his fair share of imposing defensive linemen over his high school career. Nearly every time his offense was set to hand off the ball, Bates had his man backpedaling, seven yards away from the play before the running back even got back to the line of scrimmage. He plays very angry on the field, as if everyone on the defense personally wronged him. It just looks like he wants it more than anyone he goes up against.
Bates (#52 in the above gif) simply manhandles the linemen trying to get passed him. He still has work to do in pass blocking, as he is far less dominant when he has to hold his own ground as opposed to driving his opponent back, but at the guard position, that will be less of a need and more of an added bonus. He also possesses great versatility, and can line up at every spot on the offensive line. He even played at left tackle during the Under Armour All-America game due to injuries on his team, and held his own against the top pass rushers in the country. He'll need to adjust when he can't just push around defensive linemen at the college level the way he can in high school, but there is little reason to think he won't be able to make said adjustment. Simply put, Ryan Bates is a stud.
Odds are we aren't going to see a true freshman start on Penn State's offensive line for some time. The Nittany Lions have plenty of talented guys up front, but the staff has made it clear that they want young guys to spend their first year getting stronger and learning John Donovan's offense/Herb Hand's blocking schemes. Fortunately, Penn State has a little more depth at tackle this year, as the squad brings back Andrew Nelson, brings in Paris Palmer and features several redshirt freshmen who were members of the class of 2014. Unlike last year, where Penn State had to use G/C Angelo Mangiro as a tackle during emergency situations, the Nittany Lions have some depth at the position.
Having said that, Bates is probably the most college-ready offensive lineman that Penn State is bringing in this year. He has fantastic size for a freshman, even though putting on a few more pounds would certainly be advantageous. Bates does need to work a bit on his technique (particularly pass blocking), but there's no reason to think Hand won't be able to teach him everything he needs to know. Still, while most of Penn State's true freshman offensive linemen will not see the field under any circumstance this year, Bates is the one locked in an "in case of emergency" container.