Former Arkansas football kicker Jake Bates signs a 2-year deal with Detroit

Arlington Renegades v Michigan Panthers
Arlington Renegades v Michigan Panthers / Rick Osentoski/UFL/GettyImages

Special teams, as a unit, have been up and down since Sam Pittman was named head coach. But when it comes to placekickers, the Hogs were superbly blessed. The obvious example of this was Cam Little, who became the youngest kicker ever drafted this year.

However, we undercelebrated kickers like Jake Bates because he played in the shadow of Little. Now, he's getting his big shot. He reportedly signed a 2-year deal with the Detroit Lions earlier this week, making the jump from the UFL to the NFL.

Bates was a kickoff specialist at Arkansas, becoming one of the best in the nation. He earned First-Team All-SEC honors with a conference-leading 64.47 yards per kickoff and 64 touchbacks. Bates also led the FBS in touchback percentage at 85.3 percent. The biggest moment of his short Arkansas Career came when he executed a surprise onside kick to make things interesting against Alabama in 2022.

That wouldn't be the last time Bates became the talk of the football world. He turned heads in March after knocking down a casual 64-yard, game-winning field goal with the Michigan Panthers — his first field goal attempt since high school. The impressive kick was only two yards short of matching Justin Tucker's 66-yard record.

Bates went on to kick two more 60-plus-yard field goals in 2024. Green Bay and Washington showed interest in him, too, but Bates ultimately decided to stay in the Motor City.

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