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Brenden Bates returning for 2023 season

Bates will be a super senior.

Brenden Bates. David Wohlabaugh. Isamu Haynes-Sunayama - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats learned Thursday they’ll have a pair of seniors returning for the 2023 season.

First, it was offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey who announced he would return for a super senior season in Lexington.

Now, tight end Brenden Bates has done the same on Twitter.

“Battling this shoulder injury caused me to miss precious games which never sat right with me,” Bates said. “I have unfinished goals that I want to obtain for myself and for this team.

“Therefore, I am announcing my return to play as a Kentucky Wildcat — my return will allow me to develop further and pursue my dreams of playing in the NFL.”

A 6-foot-5, 264-pound native of Cincinnati (OH), Bates appeared in 11 games this season, catching 10 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. He has 22 career grabs for 183 yards and two scores.

Injuries have limited Bates throughout his career, including this past season when a shoulder injury sidelined him vs. Louisville and then against Iowa in the Music City Bowl.

The 2021 season is the only one in which Bates played every game (13) while making six starts for a 10-win Kentucky team that beat Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.

According to Pro Football Focus (via Cats Illustrated), Bates finished 2022 with a 78.2 pass-blocking grade, the best on the team. His blocking ability is what gives him value in an offense already deep at the tight end position, especially with the question marks the offensive line is facing after a dismal 2022 campaign.