One of the exciting newcomers to ULM's offense in 2011 should be muscle-back Mitchell Bailey, the prized transfer from Arkansas who is competing for playing time this spring. The Broken Bow (Okla.) Bruiser brings a rare combination of size and speed to a running back position that is also stocked with slasher Jyruss Edwards and thumper Centarius Donald. Warhawk Nation editor Paul Letlow visited with Bailey after a recent spring practice to gather his thoughts.
Warhawk Nation: How has your first year in Monroe been?
Bailey It's been a real good experience. When I first came in, the players took me right in. We've been good about working together and on the same page. I'm looking forward to this next season. We're all real excited.
Warhawk Nation: You and Centarius Donald bring a power element to the running game that can be valuable late in games. Is that how you envision your role?
Bailey Yes sir. You know later as the game goes on, they're going to start looking to run out the clock -- especially when we're ahead. They can put guys like Centarius and me in to help run the clock out. I know we've got some formations where we're both in. We're really looking forward to that because we can really mix it up.
Warhawk Nation: What brought you to Monroe when you left Arkansas?
Bailey You mean in general? The food is awesome here. I love the food here. The people here are really nice, friendly and easy to get along with. I really like it here.
Warhawk Nation: What was the connection that made you aware of ULM?
Bailey I think Coach Berry knew some of the coaches at Arkansas. After I got my permission release form out, he gave me a call. He'd been keeping up with me and talking to the coaches. It worked out good. It's been a real blessing to get a full ride here.
Warhawk Nation: Practice was closed in the fall but we heard good things about you. What was it like to sit out during your transfer year?
Bailey Sitting out is tough on me. It's tough on anybody. We can't really practice with the offense but we can contribute to the defense when we get in on scout team. We can work hard and give them a good look so they're ready to go when the game comes around. We worked hard on that last season. Now that it's over, I'm ready to go.
More on Bailey from offensive coordinator Steve Farmer: Obviously with him, we need to find ways to get the ball going downhill. We have those things in our system, which is the great thing about our system. We need to start calling ‘em and practicing them more. We need to get ‘em greased up with the linemen and the tight ends and the timing of it. Obviously between him and Centarius, they're guys who are a change-of-pace back compared to what we've had in recent years. They're the type of guy you might tackle in the first or second quarter and be OK with it. That third and fourth quarter, you might find a way to stay on your blocks so you don't have to tackle him. They are the type of guys who can wear a defense down.
THE BAILEY BIO HIGH SCHOOL CAREER: Bailey played tailback, linebacker and on special teams for Coach Greg Werner at Broken Bow High School. As a senior, he earned OCA All-State & All-County honors and was chosen the Class 4A All-District "Offensive MVP of the Year". He finished his career with 1,036 rushing yards on 132 carries and had 15 touchdowns (avg. 7.85 yards per carry). He is just one of only four Broken Bow players in the last 40 years to rush for over 1,000 yards (with an average of more than 7.5 yards/carry). He also had 156 career tackles at linebacker. As a senior, he had 111 carries for 846 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also completed one pass for 27 yards and had one reception for eight yards. As a senior inside linebacker, where he spent most of his time, he had 102 total tackles. He logged 20 tackles in the Class 4A State Semi-finals game against Glenpool. One of his best offensive performances came in the 41-7 victory over Poteau when he scored on four of his seven runs for 147 yards (56, 55, 20, and 2). Mitchell's career long TD of 85 yards came in the 2008 opener against Class 5A Chickasha in which he was named Class 4A's Leading Rusher in the state with 155 yards on 11 carries and 2 TD's. His junior season he was moved to inside linebacker and had 54 tackles. He worked mostly with the junior varsity as a sophomore racking up 967 yards and 9TD's on 59 carries averaging over 16 yards per carry, but, most notably, he scored on a 37-yard TD run on his first official sophomore carry with the varsity squad against Stillwell (Oct. 20, 2005). In 2008, Mitchell was one of only 38 players chosen from the state of Oklahoma to play in the 71st annual Oil Bowl (Oklahoma defeated Texas, 17-16). He was selected the 2008 Broken Bow team Offensive & Defensive MVP. Chosen as a Senior Team Captain, he helped lead the #3 ranked Savages to an 11-2 winning season that ended in the state semi-final loss to Glenpool (7-6). Bailey also competed in basketball, track and golf.
AT ARKANSAS: In the 2009 Arkansas Red-White Spring Game, he had 11 rushes for 21 yards and a long of eight, as the White Team's starting running back. Also during the earlier spring scrimmages, he had 18 carries for 125 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run on his first official touch debuting at running back. As an invited walk-on in 2008, Mitchell earned the starting fullback job and played in four games in 2008 (W. Illinois, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU). After returning from an early season rib injury to play against South Carolina, Bailey made his first collegiate reception for four yards and a TD. His score, a pass from Casey Dick, came in the third quarter and put the Hogs within six points of the Gamecocks.
PERSONAL: Born Sept. 13, 1989, he is the son of Mike and Stacy Bailey. Bailey received the "Smart Savage" award two straight years for have the highest GPA on the 90-man football team (4.063 GPA). He was elected the 2008 senior class president by the student body and voted the "Outstanding Male Student" four-straight years by the high school faculty..---Background information courtesy of Arkansas Sports Information