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Illinois LB Leaving School Early

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#55 Houston Batesof Illinois assists on a tackle against Ohio State on November 16, 2013 (Getty/Jonathan Daniel)

#55 Houston Batesof Illinois assists on a tackle against Ohio State on November 16, 2013 (Getty/Jonathan Daniel)

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)- Illinois linebacker Houston Bates says he is leaving the team to try to find a school closer to his home in Louisiana for his final season.

In a statement Friday the Covington, La., native thanked the school and coaches and says he’ll graduate this May with a degree in community health. He said he wants friends and family to see him play.

Football coach Tim Beckman said he would have liked Bates to stay but called him “a terrific and bright young man.”

Bates started all 12 games during last fall’s 4-8 season. He was eighth on the team with 40 tackles but also had 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Because he will have his degree he’ll be able to play right away when he transfers.

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