HOUSTON — Trevor Bates did not have a lectern Monday night during the media crush at Super Bowl Opening Night.

While reporters sought out members of the New England Patriots gathered at Minute Maid Park, Bates and the other members of the Patriots practice squad huddled together. Few stopped to ask them questions.

That didn’t keep Bates, the 23-year-old Westbrook native and former University of Maine star, from basking in every second of it.

After all, the Patriots will go for their fifth Super Bowl championship at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at NRG Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons – and Bates could earn a Super Bowl ring.

Drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round last spring, Bates, a linebacker, played one game for them before being cut Oct. 13. He was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Nov. 7 and has been with the team since then.

“It’s been crazy, man,” Bates said. “It’s been an incredible journey. It’s had its ups and downs. I’ve learned the business aspect of the game. I’ve had good days and bad days. Overall it’s been a great journey and it’s all worked out how it’s supposed to.”

Trevor Bates, 45, also played basketball at Westbrook High School, but on the football team he was a do-everything player for coach Jeff Guerette, especially in his senior year.

Trevor Bates (45) also played basketball at Westbrook High School, but on the football team he was a do-everything player for coach Jeff Guerette, especially in his senior year.

Bates has not played in a game for the Patriots, and it’s unlikely he will Sunday night – his job is usually done well before kickoff.

Bates helps prepare the Patriots offense for whatever the opposing defense might do. The Patriots’ 10 practice squad players work during the week to mimic the schemes of an opponent. At times, Bates and others are asked to impersonate the tendencies of individual players.

Apparently he’s been doing a pretty good job of it.

After a month, the Patriots gave Bates a raise from the minimum of $6,900 per week to $18,000 per week. Since then he’s twice been named one of the team’s Practice Players of the Week, including for his work leading into the Patriots’ AFC championship game win over Pittsburgh.

“It’s good to know that I’m contributing and helping them out and doing a good job with what they’re asking me to do,” he said. “No role is too small. I’m glad and able to do whatever I can to help the team out.”

NO SPOTLIGHT ON PRACTICE SQUAD

mike-lowe in houstonIt’s a job his teammates appreciate.

“The practice squad is the heroes of the team,” said offensive tackle Nate Solder. “They give you a look you couldn’t get otherwise. They sacrifice their bodies, they sacrifice their time for not a whole lot of glory or appreciation. We’re so thankful for all the guys that bust their tail every day against us.

“They’re in there lifting weights, they’re doing everything we do and probably more, but they don’t get to play in those games that are so much fun for us. And no one knows who they are a lot of times because they’re unspoken heroes.”

At 6-foot-2, 247 pounds, Bates is not large by NFL standards but makes up for it with quickness and athleticism. He plays with an edge. And those who know him best say he will never be outworked.

“He puts everything into the game,” said former UMaine teammate Pat Ricard, a defensive tackle who graduated in December and hopes to join Bates in the NFL next year. “Everyone respects Trevor. His work ethic is incredible.” Bates, who received his degree in kinesiology and physical education in December 2015, was a do-everything player for coach Jeff Guerette at Westbrook High School. The Blazes didn’t win many games, through no fault of Bates.

“He would have been our best everything,” Guerette said. “Especially his senior year when we moved him around a lot.”

He said Bates was just beginning to develop his work ethic in high school.

“You could see it was becoming important to him,” Guerette said. “And when he got to (UMaine), he really figured it out.”

A STELLAR CAREER AT UMAINE

Bates received few offers coming out of high school and accepted a $1,000 scholarship from UMaine and Jack Cosgrove. By the end of his career he was a three-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection, including first-team honors as a senior, when he had 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He finished his career with 19 sacks, 35 tackles for a loss and three interceptions.

Joe Harasymiak, UMaine’s head coach, said Bates’ character and work ethic will carry him far. “It’s going to be hard to cut him in terms of his character and who he is,” Harasymiak said. “He might get cut because he doesn’t fit a scheme, but not because of who he is as a person and how accountable he is.

“I know right now he’s doing everything they ask him to do and he’s flying around. We’re pretty excited for him.”

By the end of his career at UMaine, Trevor Bates was a three-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection, including first-team honors as a senior. "I know right now he's doing everything (the Patriots) ask him to do and he's flying around. We're pretty excited for him," said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak.

By the end of his career at UMaine, Trevor Bates was a three-time all-Colonial Athletic Association selection, including first-team honors as a senior. “I know right now he’s doing everything (the Patriots) ask him to do and he’s flying around. We’re pretty excited for him,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak.

Bates appreciates the support he gets from Maine, the text messages and phone calls. He’ll have three friends and family members at the game Sunday.

He’ll meet them later in this week, but only after his work is done. Bates isn’t just helping the Patriots get ready for Sunday, he’s trying to make sure they remember him.

“You just do the best you can,” he said. “I was very blessed to be picked up by this team and I just try to work as hard as I could and do everything I can to help the team and try to make my name known in the coach’s office and the front office.”

He doesn’t worry about the future, simply saying, “We’ll worry about that after the game. I think I’m in a good situation.”

If he’s eventually signed to the Patriots’ 53-man roster, Bates would be the fourth Maine native to suit up for New England, joining Augusta’s Dave Cloutier (1964), Biddeford’s Dennis Gadbois (1987-88) and West Enfield’s Matthew Mulligan (2013). Only one Maine native – Deering High School grad Dick Capp – has ever played in a Super Bowl (in 1968 with the Green Bay Packers).

On Monday night, Bates was watching the Super Bowl media spectacle unfold around him with wide eyes. He has seen this event many times on television, and now, here he was, a part of it.

“It’s an unbelievable experience and moment, and I just try to make the most of it,” he said. “You see some crazy stuff out here sometimes. It’s still crazy to be out here now.”

And it’s crazy for his Maine supporters to think he’s playing in this game.

“It’s pretty surprising, and that’s not a knock on Trevor,” Guerette said. “I just never expected a kid who played for us at Westbrook to be on a Super Bowl team.”

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