It's not often 6-foot-5, 307 pound athletes are recognized for their agile and fluid movements, but Arizona State sophomore offensive lineman Quinn Bailey is somewhat of an outlier. It wasn't always this way for Bailey, but after two-plus years in a college strength program, Bailey's agility and fluidity stand out.
Bailey is in line to start along the Sun Devils’ offensive line with other players who lack experience, but have turned heads with their athleticism this fall. Alongside Bailey, ASU’s projected line features senior Evan Goodman and sophomore Sam Jones on the left side at tackle and guard, and senior Stephon McCray and redshirt freshman Zach Robertson lined up alongside at center and right tackle respectively.
ASU’s offensive line has been a question since the end of last season, with four starters graduating. However, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen continues to build toward the future with new offensive line recruits. Freshmen with builds similar to Cohl Cabral -- 6-foot-5, 283 pounds with a frame that can add weight into the 300-plus range -- is what Thomsen is looking for in the coming years to fill out the line’s potential.
“If you look at Steve (Miller), Zach (Robertson), and Quinn (Bailey), those are big-boned, big people. We’re still not as big and long as I want to be,” Thomsen said. “My left tackle at Texas Tech was massive, he’s still playing for New England. 6-foot-6 and 325 (pounds). I want to continue to get those kind of guys, and that’s what we’re looking for. I mean I’m excited, really excited, about those young guys.”
In 2014, Bailey was rated as the No. 81 overall offensive tackle in the country according to Scout, and was recruited alongside Jones in ASU’s recruiting class. During his recruitment process, the effort to obtain Bailey was spearheaded by Thomsen, and ASU beat out Arizona, Oregon and Washington among others for Bailey’s commitment.
Before he fully committed to playing football, though, Bailey played basketball throughout middle school and high school. During Bailey’s final year at Higley High, he averaged 12.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
Ultimately, Bailey’s frame made him stand out as a Pac-12-caliber football prospect.
Did the Higley (Gilbert, Arizona) connection play a part in Bailey's ultimately decision to commit to the Sun Devils? It played a minor role, at least.
“A little bit, I’ve lived here since about middle school,” Bailey said of his rooting interests for ASU before his commitment. “I always watched their games. That was the team I watched when I lived here.”
Looking back on his days playing basketball, Bailey said running up and down the hardwood for many years helped refine his skill set in pads. That’s also what Thomsen looked at when he recruited Bailey.
Thomsen said he based his recruitment of Bailey around the idea of his athleticism and overall frame. When he first visited Bailey, it was to watch him play basketball.
“It helps, you’re like a little more athletic,” Bailey said. “Also, I was a little leaner in high school so it helped a little bit with that.”
One of the main things to watch for in every position group for ASU this season is the way it gels, and Bailey knows that will be a key in the success of this group of linemen.
With the aforementioned inexperience on the offensive line, Bailey is seen as one of the new pieces looking to bring the entire group together. Outside of Goodman and Jones, who started 11 and three games respectively last year, no other ASU lineman has started a collegiate game. (McCray was used last year in 12 games for depth along the line, but never earned a start.)
Throughout ASU’s time in Payson at Rumsey Park and at Camp Tontozona, the Sun Devils’ defensive linemen earned an edge over the offense, especially sophomore Joseph Wicker, who came off the edge against Goodman, Jones and Bailey. After ASU’s trip up north, the media has been limited to seeing 20 to 30 minutes of practice in Tempe, so the offensive line's progress is an area eyes will focus on once ASU's September 3 opener against Northern Arizona commences.
“We’ve just got to do our job,” Bailey said of this year’s inexperienced group. “We have a really good line this year. A lot of really good players, smart players, and physical players. So, as long as we do our job we’ll be good.”
McCray said this year’s group of linemen already possess a nicely built chemistry, thanks in part to the stability Bailey provides.
“I like Quinn,” McCray said. “Playing with him, just comfortable, big dude. We worked well together with combos and things like that. I think it doesn’t really matter who it is, we all have that chemistry.”