Auburn football: Former Tiger standout and NFL journeyman signs with new team.

Former Auburn linebacker Daren Bates is returning to the NFL.

Life as a special teams player in football isn’t one of glory and accolades. Instead, special teamers often go unnoticed or unheralded despite their obvious hard work and talent. That has been the reality for former Auburn football linebacker Daren Bates.

After going undrafted in 2013 Bates signed by the St. Louis Rams. Bates only recorded five total tackles on the year and was mainly used as a special teams player. Bates played the same role for the Rams for two more seasons and was even a team captain in 2015.

In March of 2016, Bates signed with the Oakland Raiders where he spent one season before signing a three-year, $6 million contract with the Tennessee Titans the following year. For the second time in his career, Bates was named a special teams captain but the team wouldn’t re-sign him when he became a free agent this past March.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has been especially difficult for unheralded free agents to find jobs in the NFL. After being without a team for several months, the former Auburn star has finally gotten another chance at his pro football dreams.

After getting a tryout with the Houston Texans earlier this month,  the team announced on Sunday that would be signing the 5-foot-11, 225-pound linebacker. Along with the signing of Bates, the Texans also signed long snapper Anthony Kukwa and waived rookie linebacker Jan Johnson.

With the signing of Bates, Houston’s roster now sits at 80 players.

As for Bates’ Auburn career, undersized linebacker/safety came to The Plains as a three-star prospect out of Olive Branch, Mississippi. However, despite ranking as the No. 1,134 player in the class of 2009, Bates was able to make an impact right away for Auburn.

As a true freshman in 2009, Bates recorded 70 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one interception and was named to the second-team Freshman All-American team.

After playing both safety and linebacker for the Tigers in first two seasons and winning a national championship with Auburn as a sophomore, Bates had a breakout campaign in 2011.

In his final two seasons on The Plains, Bates recorded a combined 198 tackles (a team-high during that span), 14 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one interception.

 

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