Record-setting receiver Stedman Bailey made a visit to the low country of Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, July 22 for a meet and greet at the Charleston Sports Pub. We sat down with Bailey and talk about his return to West Virginia, what he thinks of the coming season and his future plans.
Bailey played for the Mountaineers during the 2010-2012 seasons, entering the 2013 NFL draft with just less than a year left before obtaining his college degree. Bailey went on to play for the Los Angeles, formerly St. Louis Rams until that unfortunate November evening in the fall of 2015; where Bailey was unfortunately shot in south Florida.
Bailey’s return to the Mountaineers, as a student assistant coach for the upcoming season shows the receiver has the embodiment of the phrase “Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.” Sometimes there is truly nothing better than coming home, a place close to home, to both better oneself and give back to a place that gave so much. That’s exactly what Bailey is doing in coming back to West Virginia.
The most important thing about returning to West Virginia for the new student assistant coach is to finish his degree. Bailey has just a handful of classes remaining before graduating and this pretty much number one on his list.
For Bailey, the chance to return to West Virginia and finish his degree sets a precedent for his young son to look up to. Having the opportunity to return to school and complete his education, while assisting with the many talented and young receivers on the football team shows just how deep the Mountaineer spirit is in fan-favorite Stedman Bailey.
Prior to his arrival in Morgantown, Bailey is in contact with the players on the team, making sure they are staying out in shape and getting ready for the upcoming season. Bailey has been given the opportunity to impart his skill and wisdom upon these players.
For the players, it is quite literally a chance to firsthand learn and train with a record-setting athlete. The new coach has high expectations for the Mountaineers this season. Bailey sees a lot of talent on the team. With him being around the players, they are essentially handed a football mentor close to their age who has ran up and down that field countless times before.
This fall will be a different experience for wide receiver, watching the game as opposed to suiting up and playing. One of Stedman’s best moments at West Virginia was inaugural Big 12 game against Baylor several years ago; a shoot out many fans remember quite fondly.
“With us knowing that they were going to be our first Big 12 opponents,” Bailey told us, “everybody felt that we wanted to make a statement and let these guys know that we’re here and we aren’t to be taken lightly.”
Bailey is working on returning to playing in the NFL, but right now he is returning to Morgantown. He will be a student assistant coach for the Mountaineers for the 2016 season.
He was a member of the first West Virginia team in the Big 12, having played his final season in Morgantown during the school’s inaugural Big 12 season.
When asked who he thought was the Mountaineers’ rival in their relatively new conference, Bailey said “. . . every game is something that you would count as a rival team. Any given Saturday you’re playing an opponent that can probably score a lot of points and no game is to be taken lightly.”
With Big 12 media days having just ended, we asked about Bailey’s thoughts on conference expansion, with the receiver saying how much he enjoys watching “good college football games” and the “. . . better the competition, the better the games would be.”
Not only does he have the opportunity to finish his degree, but he will be continuing to rehab, work out and train to prepare for a return to the NFL.
There is another fan favorite on the Rams team, Bailey’s close friend Tavon Austin. When asked about Tavon’s upcoming season, Bailey said “I think he will do great. He’s been busting his butt this whole off-season.”
Austin has two more years left on his contract with the Rams after they picked up the fifth-year option available to first round picks, and Bailey’s absence from the team this fall will be just another motivation for Austin to go out every Sunday and leave it all on the field in the Rams’s new home of Los Angeles.
Bailey will now get to have that “fan” experience of watching the game as opposed to being one of the key players of the game, taking part in “Country Roads” as a fan cheering on their team after victory, whereas he used to sing the song after being a key part of creating the victory on the field.
“I’m really interested in just seeing what the whole atmosphere is to watch. I never really had that experience. I’m sure it’s a blast.”
Mountaineer fans around the world would be quick to tell him, that yes, that is experience of watching the Mountaineers play is something wonderful.
What happened last fall to Bailey was a terribly unfortunate incident that has created a little bump in the road for the football player. Bailey is handling the situation with great grace and one of the best attitude’s to be seen by anyone. Instead of just waiting to return the NFL, he is bettering himself and giving back to a team and school that loves him so much.
By coming back to West Virginia, Bailey is instilling the “Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer” tradition, and showing the new Mountaineers how to make the best out of every situation. We are hopeful that after returning to West Virginia and completing his degree, Bailey makes that return to the NFL and our Sunday afternoons see him back on the field.
Whatever his future may hold, this Mountaineer has shown Mountaineer pride and that he is capable of literally quite anything.