Talented Athlete Ready For Expanded Role As Senior

One of Mississippi's top football prospects will play both offense and defense as a senior and has early interest in Auburn.

Moss Point, Miss.–-If you're hoping to catch C.J. Bailey on or off the football field don't bother. Chances are he's too fast or too busy to be trapped anyway.

A multi-sport star for Moss Point High, Bailey is beginning to attract attention from schools in the South after a strong junior campaign at quarterback and a strong showing at the U.S. Army All-American Junior Combine in San Antonio, Tex. last month.

A 5-11, 185 speedster, Bailey ran a hand-held time of 4.62 seconds in the 40-yard dash on the turf surface inside the AlamoDome. In a rare feat he bettered that time on the laser timers, running a smoking 4.57. Not bad for a player who at hasn't played any other position but quarterback since earning playing time as a freshman. He tells Inside The Auburn Tigers that all that is going to change his senior year though.

"I only played offense my first three years, but I become an athlete this year," Bailey says. "I'm going to return punts, kickoffs, play quarterback and also play defensive back. That's exciting to me because it lets me show myself more, not just as a quarterback. Even though I show great footwork as a quarterback, I get a chance to show colleges I can do it all on the field. They just have to put me on the field. I feel like with my talent they can put me on the field and I can be used somewhere."

C.J. Bailey

Last season Bailey led Moss Point to a playoff berth at quarterback, throwing for more than 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Despite his speed and elusiveness, he didn't run the ball much. Instead he focused on getting the ball to his receivers so they could make plays. That is evident by his best game of the year against Picayune when he threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He threw to six different receivers in the contest.

"This year was actually my second year starting, but I played more than I thought I would as a freshman," Bailey says. "I played in eight games out of 11 my freshman year. I lettered then. I started every game as both a sophomore and junior.

"I actually felt like a senior last year," he adds. "I did things I never thought I would be able to do as a quarterback. I would run around in the backfield just playing with defensive ends, having fun with them. In our first game of the season I killed a team and from then on in the season they didn't rush their defensive ends. They just tried to keep me in the pocket and try to make me a pocket passer."

In addition to his work on the football field, Bailey is also a standout in basketball, baseball and on the track. A starter on the hardwood, he currently averages 15 points per game on an 11-11 team. He starts in center field for Moss Point in baseball and has held the job since he was a freshman. In his spare time he runs the 200 meter dash and some relay events for the track team. His best time in the 200 is 21.9 seconds.

While he excels in several other sports, there is little doubt that football is going to be Bailey's calling card on the collegiate level. He says that he's already beginning to hear from several schools and is interested in many more schools around the South.

"Really, right now I'm just hearing from Southern Miss and Ole Miss," Bailey says. "I'm for sure interested in Auburn. I just started liking South Carolina because they got Coach (Tyrone) Nix as their defensive coordinator. He went there from Southern Miss. I met him last year at a camp when I was a junior. Me and him got along real good. I want to go up there (and check them out) because of him and Coach (Steve) Spurrier. All the Florida schools are nice. I really just want to go to an academic school with a winning team and a great foundation."

After camping at Southern Miss last year in addition to his combine experience in San Antonio, Bailey says that he's planning on expanding his camping trips this upcoming summer before his senior year. With plenty of schools on his list he says that he may take as many as four trips during the months of June and July to get a closer look at some of his favorite schools.

"I'm planning on going to an Ole Miss senior camp," he says. "I also want to go to an Auburn camp. A strange story, but today a friend just asked me if I would go to the Auburn camp with him. He's a freshman out of Ocean Springs. I guess he looks up to me a little bit and wants me to go. I know I'll probably end up going to the Auburn camp for sure now along with an LSU camp because my coach is going to take me there."

Bailey is a player to keep an eye on in the coming months as camp time draws near. Not known as an athlete because of playing quarterback strictly his first three years, Bailey's speed and footwork should have him climbing up the recruiting charts heading into the fall of 2005.


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