Bailey Still Battling at QB

Athletic QB Aaron Bailey has been adamant that he intends to play quarterback, despite his doubters and critics.

Wes Lunt may have been named the starter at quarterback for Illinois, but that won't stop Aaron Bailey from competing at the quarterback position. In camp, Bailey felt that each signal caller had something unique to offer.

"We all bring something to the table," he said. I can stay in the pocket, but I can keep plays going and if the play breaks down, I can get open or find the hole or throw it down the field."

Every football player has his critics, and Bailey is no different. Many are suggesting that Bailey should concede his intentions of playing quarterback to find other ways to get on the field, but Bailey has set a goal and intends to follow through with it.

"I just want to play quarterback," he said. "That's what I was recruited for. That's what I grew up playing. And that's what I'm going to play."

Bailey not only feels like he has the talent to play the quarterback position, but his intangibles bring something more to the position.

"Playing quarterback, I'm not only comfortable with it but it's something I'm good at," Bailey said. "Whether throwing the ball or running. I can be a leader there, and I feel like I can be a leader there, and not just from a football standpoint, but from a spiritual standpoint as well."

One of the biggest reasons that Bailey has doubters, especially regarding is his passing ability, is.. well.. a lack of video showing him passing. While the heavy run influence in his high school career did have an effect on his development as a passer, he feels that the fact that most of his highlights are of him running have created the perception that he can't pass.

"That's exactly the reason," he said. "Obviously on my high school highlight film it showed me mostly running. Anyone from the outside looking in is probably saying I should play another position, but I know within myself and with my friends and teammates, that I can throw the ball and that I'm a quarterback. I'm not really worried about it."

He continued, "I feel that a lot of people sleep on my passing ability. That's okay though. I'm not here to make people happy. I like being the underdog and a lot of people expect other things out of me."

One thing that hasn't ever been questioned is Bailey's work ethic, and this offseason, he began immediately to go to work to improve his football IQ and prepare himself for a greater role this season.

"I would say for me personally, I've broken down a lot of film and watched it," Bailey said. "After the season ended in November, I dedicated myself to watching film and getting in the playbook."

The quarterback competition has been an "iron sharpens iron" type of process. And while Bailey didn't land the starting job, he knows he made a lot of progress and had to produce day after day.

"I feel like the competition was good," he said. "Each day I'm producing and the other two are as well. It's raising our games to a new level. If you have a good day, you still have to bring it the next day."

Regardless of where he sits in the quarterback race, Bailey knows he still has the calling to be an "impact player" for his team. Whether it's in practice, on the field, or in the dorms, Bailey is the ultimate team player.

"Guy's come to talk to me for a prayer or whatever," he said. "I'd drop anything for that. Whether I'm doing homework or anything, I'd take time for my teammates. It's beyond football for me. I'm also here to change lives."

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