In the world of recruiting, the longest-tenured commits are usually the ones that are talked about the least.
When it comes to the Florida Gators. that commit is defensive back Aaron Gates from Sharpsburg (Ga.). Gates committed to the Gators over a year ago now, when Dan Mullen was still at the helm in Gainesville.
And while Gates might carry the stigma mentioned earlier due to the nature of his pledge, he shouldn’t.
Gates is an uber-athletic prospect that can do it all on the football field. All Gators went to the film room to get more of an in-depth look at what Gates brings to the table.
Gates is an excellent athlete that does just about everything for Trinity Christian (Ga.) School. Offense, defense, special teams, you name it and he’s finding ways to make an impact.
While Gates may still be a little raw as a DB, he oozes potential and flashes elite traits for the position. On the offensive side of the ball, he shows great ball skills making contested catches on a regular basis and extremely impressive quickness and acceleration.
Gates is able to make defenders miss in space with his lateral agility when he catches the ball, and once he sees an opportunity to get upfield, he explodes, accelerating past defenders to add chunk yardage and oftentimes ending up in the end zone.
Defensively, there is a lot to like as well. His ability to track the ball in the air on either side of the ball will translate to the next level as he does a good job of flipping his head around and locating the ball while it’s in the air. This often leads to interceptions or pass breakups.
While he’s listed as a safety, he plays corner at the prep level and does a good job at it. He has impressive closing speed to break on the receiver and the ball resulting in numerous PBU’s. He shows the ability to flip his hips, run with opposing receivers, and stay in their hip pocket with his effortless speed.
He shows the ability to play in both press and off-man coverage as well as in zone. He has great instincts, oftentimes coming off his man to make a play on the ball. And the closing speed that was discussed earlier leads to some big collisions initiated by Gates who finishes plays with bad intentions when it’s time to come downhill and make a tackle.
Back in September of 2020, Gates was selected as the subject of SI's "Freak of the Week" due to an eye-popping, four-interception performance that put him on the national radar. Here is what former SI All-American recruiting analyst Edwin Weathersby II had to say about Gates following the performance.
"Gates played mostly field corner during the game vs. Hampton, often working in off-coverage alignments with some cover-4/quarters concepts to execute on the backend," Weathersby said. "He showed fair patience versus vertical stems on the perimeter and eye discipline. His four interceptions also were a result of eye-tracking and ball skills to produce at catch points.
Aside from his pick-quartet on defense, Gates also delivered a key block as a receiver for the Trinity Christian offense, which led to a rushing touchdown. He also displayed some special teams prowess, producing a stop as a gunner on the punt team."
The only downside or “knock” on Gates aside from being a bit raw at defensive back might be the level of competition he plays at the high school level. It’s pretty clear when you turn on the tape that Gates is the best athlete on the field almost every time he steps inside the lines, and while that is enticing, there can be a bit of a learning curve at the collegiate level for players hailing from those situations.
However, one thing is for certain: Gates is a commit that Florida fans tend to forget about, and that should change.
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