Former Snider defensive back Jessie Bates is hoping to hear his name called at this week's NFL Draft. He's not sure when he'll get the call – most experts peg him as a second or third round pick, which would mean he'd get chosen Friday – but he knows what he'll be thinking about when his phone rings and there's an NFL executive on the other line.
"I'll probably just go back to when I was six years old trying to play contact football and getting denied because I was too young to play with the 7- and 8-year-olds," Bates said. "And then just going back to everyone who's been supporting me my whole life and sharing this moment with them."
Bates is watching the first round with a small group of family and friends in a private suite at the Georgetown Entertainment Center in Fort Wayne. Earlier this afternoon, he visited Snider for Jessie Bates Day, where he signed autographs and talked to some of his old teachers and coaches.
"It's just funny because I've been walking those same halls," he said of his trip Snider. "It's just funny how people view me so high now and it's just weird because that's not the person I am or the person I've been raised to be. I'm just interacting with the kids like I'm any other guy.
"I think Snider helped me physically and mentally, just because the way they run that program over there is amazing. Coach (Kurt) Tipp(mann) has it under control. ... Snider has a special place in my heart and I'll always thank them."
After leaving Snider, Bates became a star at Wake Forest, recording 119 tackles and picking off six passes in only two seasons in Winston-Salem. With the Demon Deacons, the Fort Wayne native won a pair of bowl games, the first two bowl victories for Wake Forest since 2007-08.
Bates wore the rings from his team's Belk Bowl and Military Bowl victories at the draft party and had nothing but good things to say about his time at Wake Forest.
Still, he said he's excited to take the next step into the NFL and he insisted he doesn't care which team he ends up playing for.
"I would just say somewhere warm," he said, laughing. "I don't really care where I go. I have spots in my head where I'd be like, 'Hmm, that's pretty nice,' but either way it goes it's going to be amazing wherever I go."