With a strong foot and strong fortitude, Tomball's Jake Bates kick starts pro career

Adam Winkler Image
Thursday, May 23, 2024
With strong foot and fortitude, Tomball's Jake Bates starts pro career
Sunday's game between Houston Roughnecks and Michigan Panthers will be homecoming for Michigan's kicker.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When placekicking, the uprights dictate the direction. But a narrow path like the one attached to the goal post is not the route taken by Tomball's Jake Bates.

"This would never have even been a dream because I never even thought that it was a possibility," Bates admitted during a Zoom interview with ABC13.

Kicking for the Michigan Panthers of the United Football League, Bates enters the weekend with 15 field goals made this season. That total is 15 more than the Tomball High School product had made his entire career - at any level. That's because he played only one season of high school football, doing exclusively kickoffs, before going to the University of Central Arkansas to play soccer.

"Literally, football wasn't even halfway in the back of my mind," Bates recalled. "But, our plan is our plan, and God's plan is His."

That plan included returning to football after his college soccer career concluded. Jake was a kickoff specialist at both Texas State and Arkansas, but he still did not make a field goal. He did make a pair of extra points for the Texans during the 2023 preseason before being cut.

"After that, nothing else happened," Bates noted. "So, am I done now? But I really never gave up."

With a great foot and great fortitude, Bates kept training even after getting a "real job." Just weeks after starting to work as a sales rep for Acme Brick in the Cypress area, the Michigan Panthers called.

"All I ever wanted was a chance," Bates admitted. "A real chance to come in and compete and the Panthers gave me that. Luckily, they saw something in me."

Now, everyone else can see Bates is an elite kicker.

His 15 field goals through eight games are the second-most in the UFL. The game-winning 64-yarder he booted on March 30 to open the season is tied for the second-longest field goal in professional football history. The ball Bates used for that kick is now representing the UFL in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

"I just want my story to be a reflection of God's love," Bates said. "What trusting him with your life can do. I pray every night that that whatever success comes my way, that I can shine that glory back on Him."

A journey that's taken him far and wide now has Bates splitting the narrow uprights on his ultimate goal.

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