Auburn Football: 5 Louisiana Tech Players to Watch This Week

3 of 5

Aug 30, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver K.J. Young (1) catches a pass during the game as Louisiana Tech Bulldogs defensive end Houston Bates (94) defends at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

#94 Houston Bates, 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Senior Defensive End

Like quarterback Cody Sokol, Houston Bates is a fifth year graduate transfer. Like Sokol, Bates comes from a Big Ten school. Unlike Sokol, however, Houston Bates saw the field plenty over the last three seasons.

Bates was selected to the All Big Ten team as an honorable mention in 2013. He started all 12 games for the Fighting Illini and accumulated 40 tackles, including 12 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. The Covington, Louisiana native also broke up two passes, caused two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and forced a safety. So why is he now in Ruston?

More from Auburn Football

“I’m taking this opportunity to finish my playing career closer to home so that my family and friends will be able to see me play,” Bates said when announcing his decision. It’s a simple enough reason, and it seems to be paying off.

“Louisiana Tech is a perfect fit for me at this stage of my career, and I really liked Coach (Skip) Holtz,” added Bates when speaking with Campus Insiders in April. “They run almost the exact same defense we did at Illinois, and I’ll be back at a position I know very well. I’ll again be a hybrid, but instead of LEO, Tech calls the position ‘Viper’.”

The senior played Illinois’ Leo linebacker/defensive end position, and has been used in a very similar way this season by new LA Tech defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. So far, he has nine tackles, one tackle for a loss and five quarterback hurries. Bates also intercepted a pass against Oklahoma and returned it 19 yards, which is something he had not done while at Illinois.

Despite not meeting his teammates until this summer, it hasn’t taken long for Bates to establish himself as a leader. He is a team captain and a veteran that the rest of the defense can look up to. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a heck of a player, either.