United Football League coach warns 'outsiders' about stud kicker


The United Football League is off to a roaring start and the Michigan Panthers kicker has been behind some of the top highlights from the first two weeks of the season.

Jake Bates nailed a 62-yard field goal in the Panthers’ Week 2 loss to the Birmingham Stallions. It came a week after he hit a 64-yard game-winning field goal against the St. Louis BattleHawks. Bates’ ability appeared to have drawn some NFL buzz in the last few days.

Panthers head coach Mike Nolan warned teams to pump the brakes on the kicker.

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Jake Bates, #38 of the Michigan Panthers, celebrates with teammates in the locker room after kicking a 64-yard field goal to defeat the St. Louis Battlehawks 18-16 at Ford Field on March 30, 2024 in Detroit. (Nic Antaya/UFL/Getty Images)

“Outsiders don’t touch our players too much during the season,” he said, via the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. “With Jake, somehow some of them are trying to make efforts to do that, to be honest with you, and hopefully that backs off a little bit because that’s not — they’re not supposed to do that.

“And maybe that’s rumor, but I had heard something the other day and I kind of said, ‘Well, let’s make sure we nip that in the bud,’ because, look, I want Jake to do well, and I want him to get a chance. I’d love to see him in the NFL and no one right now can do him any good, so the best thing I can do is keep those people away from him currently, because I’m not helping Jake if I don’t do that.”

Nolan said it was a bit of both when asked whether it was teams or agents contacting Bates.

Jake Bates vs Stallions

Jake Bates, #38 of the Michigan Panthers, celebrates with Brock Miller, #41, after kicking a field goal during the third quarter against the Birmingham Stallions at Ford Field on April 7, 2024 in Detroit. (Luke Hales/UFL/Getty Images)

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An NFL spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press that teams are allowed to contact UFL teams about their players but cannot sign UFL players until after the season. Additionally, NFL teams are barred from contacting players under contract with UFL teams or discussing the player with their agent.

The UFL Championship is set for June 16.

Bates played soccer at Central Arkansas before transferring to play football at Texas State. He transferred to Arkansas before the 2022 season and made the All-SEC team.

He was undrafted in 2023 when he tried to make it to the NFL. He spent time on the Houston Texans’ training camp roster. He signed with Michigan in December.

Jake Bates looks on

Jake Bates, #38 of the Michigan Panthers, looks on against the St. Louis Battlehawks during the third quarter at Ford Field on March 30, 2024 in Detroit. (Luke Hales/UFL/Getty Images)

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His 64-yard field goal is the second longest in professional football history.

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