Before his senior season started, playing football at a Division I level was a real possibility for Park Center's Michael Bailey. An injury mid-way through the regular season ended his senior year early and shifted the recruiting landscape for the…
Before his senior season started, playing football at a Division I level was a real possibility for Park Center's Michael Bailey. An injury mid-way through the regular season ended his senior year early and shifted the recruiting landscape for the Pirate's defensive back. While the injury was obviously not how Bailey envisioned his year ending, he made the best of the situation, embraced his new role on the team and although not at the DI level, recently committed to a program that stuck with him despite his abbreviated season.
Without much success on the field last season, the Park Center program was off to a great start the first month of this season.
“We just wanted to change the culture and start installing some new things for the younger guys so they would have something to look forward to,” Bailey said. “We came into the season with a whole new confidence.”
Bailey was primarily a defensive player.
“Our coach always said 1130,” Bailey said. “1130 means all eleven to the ball for a three and out. That is what we lived off the whole season, and it made a difference record-wise.”
Before his injury, the team was 2-2, and Bailey helped a young defense.
“We were getting stops. Guys were able to look to me with questions, and I was able to give them answers on the defensive scheme.”
Despite his injury, Bailey continued to help his team when he could.
“After the injury, I was still going to be there for the guys. I was told my presence alone was helping the guys. I was coaching up the guy who took my spot. He was a young guy, so I helped with what to look for and what to expect from the teams and how to read tendencies.”
Before his injury, Bailey played safety or nickel corner – usually on the field side of the ball.
“I love to hit so being able to come down and get off a one-on-one block to make a play in the backfield that is one of my big things. I like to cover too,” Bailey told northstarfootballnews.com. “I see a lot of tendencies so I take the first few plays to read you to see what you like to do and if you don't change it up it is going to be a long day for you.”
During a practice between week's four and five Bailey tore his flexor tendon in his hand.
“The tendon that bends all my fingers snapped off. My hand was stiff. I had surgery on it. I just finished my rehab the other day. I had to do a lot of hand stretches to get the flexibility back in my fingers. It took about three months, and I can begin working out next week.”
With his high school career over prematurely – mentally – Bailey could have gone one of two ways. He could have felt sorry for himself or make the best of a bad situation and keep a positive attitude.
“Mentally it hurt at first,” said the 6'3″188-pound defender. “I was not going to be able to finish out my senior year with the guys. After a while, I decided it doesn't matter where I go to college. I am going to play with a chip on my shoulder. I need to prove that I can still do it and that I am still one of the best players in the state.”
Bailey had DI interest from North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Iowa and Minnesota. After his injury, their interest dropped off quickly.
“(After the injury) recruiting-wise I was showing love to whoever showed me love,” the Pirate's senior said. “If that was a DIII, DII or DI it didn't matter. If someone was willing to give me a chance I was willing to take them into consideration. “
Southwest Minnesota State, Bemidji State, Minnesota State University Moorhead and Minnesota State University Mankato were most interested in the senior, but Bailey seemed to be a priority of Southwest's from the beginning and the senior rewarded the loyalty with a commitment.
“They like my motor and the way I get to the ball.”
They have told Bailey they see him as a nickel corner and is expected to compete for playing time in year one. The Mustangs stuck with Bailey during his worst athletic moments, and that loyalty ultimately was the trait that most impressed Bailey and led to his commitment.