Wednesday morning Doherty senior Alijah Bates woke up to the sound of his father, Solomon, singing the Arizona State University fight song.
Not an unusual wake-up call in the Bates household, as Alijah’s parents Solomon and Nicole met while they were Division I athletes at ASU in the early 2000s. Solomon was a middle linebacker for the Sun Devils, while Nicole played on the women’s basketball team.
But today that rendition of the fight song was special, because just a few hours later Alijah signed his National Letter of Intent to play football for Arizona State.
"I’ve been dreaming about coming to ASU since I was little,” Bates said. “It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do — play football for ASU, that’s it.”
After Bates signed his letter in front of family and friends he stood up and took off his maroon sweatshirt to reveal his father’s jersey from the 2002 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl — Solomon’s final game for ASU.
“That was pretty cool I didn’t know he was going to do that. He just told me he had a surprise for me,” Solomon said. “I think he has taken all of our jerseys and ASU paraphernalia the last four years.”
Solomon, who played for the Sun Devils from 1999-2002 and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft, joked that he filled out his uniform better than his 6-foot-8, 235-pound son Alijah.
“If you say he’s following in my footsteps, I’ll take it because I’m on his coattails right now,” Solomon said. “We are living vicariously through him. I think he’s in a better position than I was and I think he’s a better athlete than I was, and he’s amazing young man and I’m very proud of him.”
Solomon said there are some ASU staff members who worked for the athletic department when he and Nicole were students, and it was nice to visit the campus with the next generation.
“I was just trying to explain to him that place has changed so much since 20 years ago when I took my visit. They’re building, expanding, a lot of new things going on,” Solomon said. “But what we loved about it is we still knew some people, and they remember him from when he was little running around and all of that. We knew he would be in good hands, both because it’s a great institution, but there are also people we know who are personally interested in his success.”
Alijah is a three-star recruit, ranked No. 17 in Colorado class of 2019. He received offers from Northern Colorado, Utah State and Wyoming. Bates received an offer from Arizona State over the summer and officially committed Sept. 20.
“Once the offer came in, I knew it was Sun Devils 100 percent,” Bates said.
Bates will play for former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards, who was hired by ASU in 2017.
“When I first met him it was kind of scary because he was the Herm Edwards but after getting to talk to him a bit he’s a really cool dude so I’m really happy and excited to play for him,” Bates said.
During his senior season with the Spartans, the two-way lineman had 29 total tackles — 25 of them solo, and seven tackles for a loss. He also had four sacks and a blocked field goal. He helped Doherty earn a playoff bid for the first time since 2015 as the Spartans battled through one of the toughest schedules in Class 5A.