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July 5, 2013
The countdown continues towards the August 2 report date for the Houston Cougars players who will official begin camp two days later with their first practice, assumable on their new practice fields. As their countdown continues, so does ours here at CougarsDen where we continue the Key Coogs series, sponsored by our friends over at Chastang Ford.
We continue our countdown, reaching number 22 today and taking a look at senior cornerback Thomas Bates who will enter the Cougars pre-season camp as the incumbent starter after taking over for D.J. Hayden last season after he went down with the freakish injury that nearly ended his life.
In Hayden's absence, Bates performed even better than most expected, logging seven tackles in each of his starts over the final three games, including a career-high 11 stops against Tulane.
His primary competition at the spot will come from junior college mid-term enrollee Turon Walker who used the spring to get acclimated to his new team and it's defense.
Bates has consistently been a solid contributor since redshirting in the 2009 season and has been on the receiving end of several very clutch interceptions including two very big ones in the 2011 road game against Louisiana Tech that saw the Cougars cap a tremendous come back in the final minutes to win.
He is also a solid contributor on special teams and would be a likely candidate, if by chance Walker were to beat him out, to fall into the nickel-back role for the Cougars.