From rural Vermilion Parish to the Arizona desert.
That’s the cultural experience awaiting Kaplan defensive end Jalen Bates following his commitment Tuesday to Arizona State.
Bates, the nation’s No. 30 strong-side defensive end, according to Rivals.com, selected the Sun Devils of the Pac 12 Conference over Texas Tech and UL-Lafayette.
“When I went there it’s what I’d rather over Louisiana,” Bates said. “I can’t play in the cold. I’d rather be somewhere comfortable. The weather and climate’s perfect for me and that West Coast vibe fits my style. I just fell in love with the scenery.”
Bates made official visits to the Tempe, Arizona campus in late August and also Texas Tech but waited to announce his decision at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday — his birthday.
“I didn’t think it would be this easy to commit and just cut it off,” Bates said. “I was enjoying the recruiting. I have to make a decision and grow up. It was kind of overwhelming at first but I was ready to shut it down because I know where I want to go.
“The past few weeks I haven’t been contacting anybody,” Bates said. “Arizona State would call and probably thought I wasn’t interested, but I wasn’t talking to anybody. I was too worried about my school work and football season.”
Besides the glowing facilities and scenic backdrop of the Phoenix suburb, Bates said he made an immediate connection to ASU defensive line coach Jackie Shipp. Arizona State is projecting the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder at either defensive end or outside linebacker.
“The coaching staff is what I was looking for,” Bates said. “Just the way they get after the ball on defense. The way coach Shipp coaches and sets up the line and coach (Todd) Graham the linebackers to make plays in the backfield.
“I just saw myself making a lot of plays and that’s what I was looking for in a school,” Bates said. “I wanted to go somewhere I could picture myself making plays. If I couldn’t picture myself doing that, then that school was off the list.”
Bates became Arizona State’s 13th commitment and with the decision behind him, looks forward to focusing on the remainder of this senior season.
Kaplan takes a 3-2 record into its District 6-3A home opener against North Vermilion.
“About two days ago I knew exactly what I wanted to,” Bates said. “I think it’s going to bring momentum to my game and light a fire and make me play even better now that I’ve committed. It’s a positive thing for me.”