Fall practice for Kentucky football is winding down as the 2023 season-opener is just a little over two weeks away. These are the dog days of the offseason as head coach Mark Stoops does his best to say as little as possible during routine press conferences, but the program does find some ways to bring us bits of fun from practice — particularly through Mic’d Up segments.
Already this offseason, the likes of DB Jordan LovettOL Eli CoxDB Zion Childressand OL Marques Cox have been hooked up with a microphone by the folks over at KY Wildcats TV. It’s always cool to hear/see what these Wildcats are going through during practice, even if it’s just the light-hearted stuff. The latest player to get Mic’d Up was redshirt fifth-year tight end, Brenden Bates.
Listen below as Bates narrates himself going through practice, which includes him hauling in a nice one-handed grab.
Now entering his sixth season at Kentucky, the 6-foot-5 Bates is officially the “old man” of the group. The Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller product has played over 900 offensive snaps during his time in Lexington but with just 22 career receptions to his name — 21 of those coming in the last two seasons. He’s been used more often as a blocking tight end than a receiving tight end over the years. However, he has plans to change that label heading into 2023.
Bates says he was pushing 270 pounds last season, the most he’s ever weighed in college — too much to be used in the passing game as he would have liked. As a result, he used this offseason to dedicate himself to the weight room and improve his diet. He did just that, and is now hovering around the 255-pound mark.
“I feel great, I feel better out there running routes, that’s what I want to get at,” Bates told reporters earlier this month. “I just want to prove to the BBN that I can do more than being labeled as just a blocking tight end.”
In spurts, Bates has shown that he has chops as a receiving tight end. He appeared in 11 games in 2022 with seven starts, recording 10 receptions for 99 yards (9.9 YPC) and a touchdown. A shoulder injury that required surgery forced him to sit out Kentucky’s final two games and rehab into the spring. During the 2021 season, Bates went for 11 receptions, 70 yards (5.4 YPC), and one touchdown.
“I do feel like sometimes I am being a little bit pigeon-holed in that aspect but I’m not doing myself any favors if I’m going to be 270 pounds and can’t move like I know I can move,” Bates said. “So, that’s my goal: Prove to everyone, prove to my coaches that I got hands, I can run routes, I can do more in the passing game.”