Originally created 04/17/99

Aiken County natives await draft choice



In a reversal of roles, D'Wayne Bates and Fred Vinson will be the ones waiting.

The Aiken County natives will play the waiting game today with their NFL futures hanging in the balance. Bates, a receiver from Northwestern, and Vinson, a cornerback from Vanderbilt, made the choices in pickup games and where to play collegiately always have made the choices, from pickup games to where to play collegiately.

The NFL draft begins today at noon and all Bates and Vinson can do is wait for their names to appear on ESPN for to learn their future destinations.

Vinson played at North Augusta, while Bates prepped at Silver Bluff. Both were teammates of Corey Chavous, who was selected 34th in last year's draft by Arizona. Bates combined with Chavous to form a powerful quarterback-receiving tandem while Vinson teamed with his cousin in Vanderbilt's secondary.

Bates and Vinson have had to overcome injuries during their collegiate careers. Vinson tore ligaments in his left foot on Oct. 24 against South Carolina and had surgery Dec. 29 to repair the damage.

On Wednesday, the 5-foot-11, 178-pounder had screws taken out of his foot and is expected to be ready for summer training camp.

"The doctor said it will take two weeks for the soreness to go

away," Vinson said. "I'll definitely be ready to go (in camp)."

Following a lost season to a broken ankle, Bates had a stellar senior campaign last year. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with a 37-inch vertical leap shattered all of Northwestern's receiving records. Bates finished his career with 197 receptions for 3,097 yards and and 24 touchdowns.

His successful senior campaign reestablished his NFL stock. After the NFL combine Feb. 18-22 in Indianapolis, Bates feels confident going into today's draft.

"I did really well in all my events at the combine," the first team All-Big 10 member said. "All I can do now is sit back and wait for my name to be called."

Bates held individual workouts with Dallas and St. Louis in recent weeks to showcase his talents.

Vinson attended the combine as well, but could only interview with prospective employers. He was disappointed he couldn't display his physical attributes.

"It was frustrating," Vinson said. "If I could've done anything, I could have raised my stock."

Their relationships with Chavous and injuries are not the only similarities between the two area products. Vinson and Bates are projected to be selected in the late first to early second round.

Fox Sports rates each as the No. 4 prospect in their respective positions.

"I really don't care where I play as long as I'm playing somewhere," Bates said.