Dillon Bates Gets Extra Year of Eligibility

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    Dillon Bates-1-3Linebacker Dillon Bates, a prized four-star recruit in the 2014 class and the son of UT and Dallas Cowboys legend Bill Bates, could be a Vol through the 2018 season.

    Bates, who had his season cut short by a torn labrum, announced via Twitter on Sunday night than he’s been awarded a medical redshirt, more formally known as a medical hardship waiver, after only appearing in four games this past season. He’ll head into the 2015 season classified as a redshirt freshman.

    NCAA rules specify that a player can receive one if they appear in 30% or less of a team’s regular-season contests and suffer an incapacitating injury. Bates appeared in just a few plays during the Georgia contest on Sept. 27, his fourth game of the season and the one that put him over the 30% threshold, giving UT strong cause to appeal for the extra year of eligibility, an appeal that was upheld by the NCAA.

    Bates recorded six tackles in limited action, playing primarily as a backup weakside linebacker and on special teams. The talented 6-foot-3, 225-pounder out of Ponte Verde, Fla., could see an expanded role next year, possibly getting a look at inside linebacker with the departure of A.J. Johnson. Regardless of how he’s used, he’ll be a key cog on special teams and an important part of Tennessee’s improving depth at linebacker for the 2015 season and beyond.

    Butch Jones said in September after the injury was announced that he expects Bates to return for spring practice.