It should surprise no one that Stedman Bailey, West Virginia University’s talented junior wide receiver, has announced the upcoming Pinstripe Bowl in New York City will be his last game as a Mountaineer.
With a game yet to play, Bailey already sits first and second on WVU's all-time list for single-season receiving yards – 1,501 this season and 1,279 last. His 106 receptions this year are second only to Tavon Austin’s 110 this season among the school's single-season receptions leaders.
Bailey also holds the top two single-game receiving yards marks in school history – 303 against Baylor and 225 against Oklahoma State, both this season. And, he and Austin share the top two spots on the list of single-game receptions with 14 and 13. Bailey has three of those 13-reception games.
Most fans expected Bailey’s decision. Bailey came to WVU in the recruiting class that included Austin and quarterback Geno Smith, but Bailey wore a redshirt in 2009 while Smith and Austin played as true freshmen. Those three racked up crazy numbers the last two seasons and all three figure to find homes in the NFL.
With a new and inexperienced quarterback taking over for Smith next year, it is hard to imagine that Bailey’s draft stock could ever be higher than it is right now except for what he may do in the Pinstripe Bowl and more importantly in the upcoming NFL combines. It is in those combines where college players are determined to become millionaires or not.
Sometimes a highly rated player will participate in the combine and his value will decline. A variety of things could surface to hurt the player’s value. His 40 time may be slower than desired, his height may have been inflated, he may bench press a lower than expected weight and the list goes on. One thing the combine does not do is identifying if a player is a real player.
The opposite can also be true and former WVU quarterback Pat White is an example of that. White wasn’t being given much consideration as a NFL prospect at quarterback, the thinking being that White may be converted to a receiver and in the late rounds at that. White went to the combine and blew away the competition with great times and his throwing accuracy, usually at traffic cones or uncovered receivers in drills, and the next thing you know he was a second round pick as a quarterback. Pat never panned out as a QB and is long since out of the league, but he got paid pretty well because of the combine he performed in.
I suspect Bailey will have a solid combine, but don’t be surprised to hear the talking heads question his height and speed. Be that as it may, I will be surprised if he doesn’t perform well in the agility drills and I will be shocked if Austin isn’t one of the top performers in those same agility drills. In any event, Mountaineer fans have just one more chance to see these three in action and that is in Yankee Stadium at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday the 29th of December.