At 5’8”, Vincent Bates will never be the tallest player on the football field.
And the sophomore corner back will always be tracking wide receivers who possess significant height advantages.
But what Bates lacks in height, he compensates in speed and tenacity.
Talking about the Ivy League’s wideouts, he said, “I think they’re slower [than me]. I rely on my quickness.”
Having registered nine tackles in limited time last season, Bates has taken his rightful place this year, starting in the defensive backfield along with Phil Rigeuer, Jimmy Vattes and Rosco Newsom.
“I’m just going game-by-game, just trying to get better each game,” he explained.
Playing at the corner, Bates –who has 16 tackles so far this season — realizes just how much responsibility his position requires.
“I guess it puts a lot of pressure on the individual,” he said, adding, “If you’re in man coverage, it’s up to you. But if you’re in zone, you have to rely on your teammates and make sure that they’re going to be in the right position.”
But Bates isn’t just a defensive specialist. In his spare time he is also the Red’s primary punt and kick returner. He has returned 17 kicks for 317 yards and has also taken back four punts for 54 yards.
“I kind of think for the offense when I’m back there receiving,” he said. “I want to give them the best field goal position I can.”
His highlight — return-wise, at least — last year was a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown against Harvard, a key play in the Red’s 24-23 victory.
“It felt great [to score a touchdown] last year,” he reflected. “But I haven’t done it yet this year.
“It’s a big goal of mine this year,” he continued.
If his words are a satisfactory reflection of his nature, Bates seems very much to be a perfectionist.
“I’m not real happy [with my performance this season],” he explained. “I expect more of myself, to make bigger plays on both kickoffs and punts.”
At heart, however, Bates is still a cornerback. And in daily practices, he gets defend against arguably the best receiver in the conference — Joe Splendorio, who at 6’6” is a good 10 inches taller than Bates.
“It’s great to go up against him, because I get so much work going up against bigger, stronger receivers,” Bates said.
Come game day, Bates’ showdowns with Splendorio during practices become a huge advantage.
“Being short, it just gives me some great work in practice, and then that makes some difference in the game,” Bates noted.
Though he hasn’t yet scored yet this season, either after an interception or through a return, Bates is still hungry to make it to the promise land . . . regardless of how he gets there.
He explained, “As long as I get in the end zone, that’s the main goal.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj