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Gates took a circuitous route to becoming an NFL prospect. He intended on playing in the NBA after a successful high school basketball career and one season at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He was not asked to return for his sophomore year, however, which led him to search out a new future. His cousin, Bernard Scott, was being recruited to ACU (as was his Tyler friend, WR Johnny Knox) and one of the Wildcats' coaches talked Gates into coming along for the ride.
He stepped onto the field as a true freshman, garnering honorable mention All-Lone Star Conference South Division honors with a strong all-purpose game (12-285-1 receiving, 14-189-4 rushing, 14-402 on kickoff returns). Even though Gates missed two games with a leg injury in 2008, he was first-team All-LSC South with 31 catches for 716 yards and eight scores on the year. He repeated those all-conference honors with 49-702-5 receiving in 2009, before exploding with an All-American senior year (66-1,182-13).
Gates had a rough childhood, growing up in a bad neighborhood with his father serving 18 years in prison for murder. He's also a bit older than the typical prospect, turning 25 in June, and his dismissal from Tyler JC will be the subject of many questions from scouts. The success of Scott and Knox in the league, however, along with his exceptional speed and playmaking ability, make Gates an intriguing mid-to-late round prospect for NFL teams willing to take the gamble.
Strengths: Adequate receiver height, but long arms make him play larger than he is. Exceptional straight-line speed; small school corners have no hope staying with him. Presses corners playing off, always a threat to burn down the sideline. Uses sidestep, or his hands on occasion, to get off the line quickly for inside position. Also sidesteps defenders after the catch, will high-step through arm tackles outside. Extends to snatch high passes from the air. Can catch throws with hands when facing the quarterback. Tracks ball over either shoulder, even straight over his head. Wins jump balls, good concentration in the air when fighting off corners. Good sideline awareness, gets both feet in-bounds after the catch. Willing blocker on receiver screens, has length to keep cornerbacks out of the play.
Weaknesses: Raw receiver with little experience. Routes need to be tightened up, too rounded on outs. Very lanky frame. Did not face a strong jam or tougher cornerbacks downfield at the Division II level. Inconsistent hands, especially when feeling a hit coming over the middle. Will struggle to sustain blocks without more effort and strength. Turns 25 in June.
Gates put up huge numbers in 2010, reeling in 66 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 touchdowns in helping the Wildcats to an 11-0 regular season record. He was just the seventh player in school history to break the 1,000-yard receiving mark and the fifth player to have more than 60 catches. Gates leaves Abilene Christian ranked second in career receiving yards (2,885), third in receptions (158), tied for first in touchdown catches (27) and fourth in scoring (194 points).
Worked his way as the top receiver for the Wildcats, earning first team all-Lone Star Conference honors. Was tops for receivers with 702 yards and fourth for ACU with 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.3 yards per catch. Had four games with more than 100 yards receiving while averaging 54 yards per game. Ended the season with a season high 8 catches for 102 yards in a season-ending playoff loss to Northwest Missouri. Had 6 catches and a season high 126 yards in a home win against Eastern New Mexico and followed that with another 5 catch 112 yard performance at East Central. Had three games with 5 catches including a win over Texas A&M-Kingsville for 111 yards.
Gates started and played in 10 games for the Wildcats, fighting off a leg injury early in the season that kept him out of two games. Gates, a first team all-LSC South Division selection in 2008, finished the season with 31 catches for 716 yards and eight touchdowns, including a career-long 74-yard TD grab against Eastern New Mexico. He also carried the ball 11 times for 94 yards and one score (vs. West Texas A&M). He had a pair of 100-yard receiving games: five catches for 122 yards in Wildcats’ 44-27 season-opening win at Northwest Missouri State (Aug. 30) and eight catches for 164 yards and two scores against Eastern New Mexico (Sept. 27). He had a pair of touchdown catches against East Central in a 66-7 win on Oct. 4 and two in a regular-season-ending win over Midwestern State (Nov. 8). In ACU’s 93-68 win over West Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs on Nov. 22, Gates caught two passes for 87 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown reception on ACU’s third play of the game.
Played in 11 games for the Wildcats, finishing with 12 catches for 285 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball 14 times for 189 yards and four more scores. He had 14 kickoff returns for 402 yards with a long return of 86 yards. Gates had 876 all-purpose yards in 2007. Burst onto the scene as a viable threat in the Wildcats’ 50-14 win at Southwestern Oklahoma State on Sept. 22 when he carried the ball three times for 30 yards (long of 21 yards) and caught one pass for 38 yards. Three games later at Angelo State, Gates had two carries for 45 yards and one TD (38-yard run) and caught one pass for a 56-yard touchdown. Two weeks later against Tarleton State he had a 73-yard TD run on a receiver end-around and caught a 66-yard pass from Bernard Scott on a halfback pass. He also had three kickoffs for 77 yards in the game with a long of 37 yards. His longest kickoff return of the season came against Chadron State in the Wildcats’ epic 76-73 triple-overtime loss. He had six kickoff returns in the game for 161 yards, including an 86-yarder in the first quarter that set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Scott. Gates was voted honorable mention all-LSC South Division.
2008: Missed two games with a leg injury.
2004 graduate of Vernon High School. All-district basketball player at Vernon HS.
Born 13 June 1986. 2004 graduate of Vernon High School in Vernon, Texas.
Draft Scout Player News
10/16/13 - WR Clyde Gates (left shoulder) was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, two days after he was hurt in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 19-6 loss to the Steelers. Though this is Gates' first trip to the IR with the Jets, he has battled injuries throughout his two years with the club. He also had a left shoulder ailment last year and also missed multiple games due to a concussion before he was plagued by a hamstring injury throughout OTAs in the spring. Gates, 27, is signed through next season. He had five catches for 36 yards and two kickoff returns for 56 yards on Sunday and finishes the season with 12 catches for 122 yards and nine kickoff returns for 209 yards.
10/15/13 - WR Clyde Gates (left shoulder) was waiting to learn the results of an MRI Monday afternoon, a day after he was hurt in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 19-6 loss to the Steelers. It is just the latest injury suffered by the hard-luck Gates, who missed games last season due to a left shoulder injury as well as a concussion and was out for much of OTAs in the spring because of a hamstring ailment. Prior to the injury, Gates was in the midst of one of his best games as a pro with five catches for 36 yards as well as two kickoff returns for 56 yards.
10/10/13 - WR Clyde Gates (knee) didn't practice Wednesday. The oft-injured Gates missed four games last year due to a shoulder injury and a concussion and missed a chunk of OTAs due to a hamstring injury. Gates was listed as questionable due to a knee injury Monday night but played and had one catch for three yards and two kickoff returns for 54 yards in the Jets' 30-28 win over the Falcons. Gates has seven catches for 86 yards in five games this season.
09/25/13 - WR Clyde Gates (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. The injury-prone Gates was seen wearing a wrap over his lower right leg and calf during the media availability portion of practice. Gates has three catches for 59 yards this year but had multiple drops, including one in the end zone, against the Patriots on Sept. 12. He was the Jets' kick returner on Sunday and failed to reach the 20-yard-line the three times he took a kickoff out of the end zone.
09/01/13 - WR Clyde Gates didn't play in the Jets' preseason finale due to the undisclosed injury he suffered in the first half of the game against the Giants on Aug. 24. Gates has displayed impressive talent since joining the Jets last year but has been hampered by numerous injuries, including a concussion that cost him two games last year as well as a hamstring ailment this spring.