Honors & Awards
- NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Recipient ($5,000)
- University of Nebraska Graduate (May, 2000)
- Member of Two Nebraska National Championship Teams (1995, 1997)
- Co-Captain (1999)
- Three-Time First-Team Academic All-Big 12 (1997, 1998, 1999)
- Two-Time GTE/CoSIDA Acadmeic All-America Nominee (1998, 1999)
- Second-Team GTE/CoSIDA Acadmeic All-District VII (1999)
- Four-Time Big 12 Commissioner's Fall Academic Honor Roll (1996 - 1999)
T.J. DeBates appeared in 40 games throughout his collegiate career. He had three receptions for 41 yards with his longest grab, an 18-yarder, coming against Iowa his senior year. He earned academic All-Big 12 honors three consecutive years and a spot on the Big 12 Commissioner's Fall Academic Honor Roll four consecutive years. DeBates also played a role on the 1995 and 1997 national championship teams.
DeBates played in every game and started eight as he shared NU's No. 1 tight end duty with sophomore Tracey Wistrom. Out of the four games DeBates didn't start, two of them were when NU opened in a non-traditional look. One came against Southern Miss when NU opened in a three wideout formation and the other came against Texas A&M when NU opened in a double wing formation. DeBates had one 18-yard catch on the year against Iowa, which also served as his career-best reception. He was a nominee for academic All-America honors for the second year in a row and earned academic All-Big 12 honors for the third consecutive season. DeBates started in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl against Tennessee, but did not record any receptions.
DeBates played in every game except two (Iowa State and Kansas State) when he was out with a left knee strain suffered in the Texas game. He made a 16-yard reception in the season opener against Louisiana Tech, but did not have another the rest of the season. An excellent blocker, DeBates helped lead the team to a No. 6 national ranking in rushing and was greatly missed when sitting out with an injury. He was also a member of the Husker kickoff return team and the PAT and field goal units. DeBates was a nominee for academic All-America honors and earned academic All-Big 12 honors for the second consecutive season. He played in the 1999 Holiday Bowl against Arizona, but did not have any receptions.
DeBates played in every game as the No. 4 tight end behind Tim Carpenter, Vershan Jackson and Sheldon Jackson. He caught his first and only pass of the season in Nebraska's last game against Texas A&M, a seven-yard grab that put NU on the 1-yard line. The Huskers scored on the next play to go ahead 30-3. DeBates was also a member of the Husker kickoff return team. He played in the 1998 FedEx Orange Bowl against Tennessee, but did not have any receptions.
DeBates lettered as a freshman, playing in six games. He did not have any receptions.
A scholarship athlete, DeBates redshirted his first year.
Before Nebraska (Stewartville High School)
When DeBates signed a letter of intent, he committed to returning to his home state - -Nebraska. DeBates lived in Stewartville, Minn., since 1979, but before that, DeBates lived with his family in O'Neil, Neb., where his father, Earl DeBates, was the head football coach. T.J. played running back, fullback, inside and outside linebacker and tight end for his father at Stewartville. As a senior, he rushed for 714 yards and totaled 2,716 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career. In addition, DeBates also caught 10 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns his final year. He set school records for touchdowns in a season (18) and career (40) and for points scored in a season (124) and career (282). The four-year letter-winner earned all-state honors from the AP, the Minneapolis Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press as a linebacker. He recorded 119 tackles in 1994 with a throw of 56-10. He also started for his basketball team and was a four-year letterman. A standout in the classroom as well, DeBates was a National Honor Society member. He visited Minnesota and Iowa and canceled a trip to Northwestern before he committed on his visit to Nebraska.
The son of Earl and Marvis DeBates, T.J. was born in O'Neil, Neb., on May 3, 1977. T.J. majored in fisheries and wildlife and earned his bachelor's degree from Nebraska in May of 2000. At the 1997 University of Nebraska Honors Convocation, T.J. received a "High Scholar" award for posting a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher. He had been a volunteer speaker in the Lincoln Public Schools and assisted with American Education Week.
DeBates' Career Statistics
1998 Orange Bowl vs. Tennessee: Receiving, None
1999 Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona: Receiving, None
2000 Fiesta Bowl vs. Tennessee: Receiving, None