Bailey, a red-shirt freshman from New Orleans, Louisiana, showed promise during spring drills while earning a spot opposite senior Marcus Jones on the first team defensive line.
But as the off-season wore on, rumors persisted that Bailey was struggling academically and might not be a part of this year's squad.
However, the 6-foot-4, 293-pound lineman has taken care of his class work and has returned to the team and the practice field this week. Bailey, who expects to see action at both line positions this fall, said he's just trying to get back in playing shape and work his way back up the depth chart and out of the proverbial "dog house."
"It feels good to be back on the team," Bailey said Thursday afternoon. "I had some academic problems over the summer and I kind of let the team down a little bit and I felt bad about that."
"Coach Petrino took me back and I'm doing fine academically now," Bailey continued. "It just feels good to be back with team and working hard. I'm just trying to work my way back up and hopefully this fall play some at defensive tackle and on the end."
Bailey said he gained about 13-pounds during the off-season but found he was in surprisingly decent condition for the start of fall practice earlier this week.
"When I came out the first day [of fall camp] we had a conditioning test with Coach Veltkamp [strength and conditioning] and I had to make my times and see what kind of condition I was in," Bailey explained. "Luckily, I made all my times and it turned out that I wasn't in as bad of shape as I thought I was. But I still need more repititions to get the stamina that I need on the field."
Bailey said he feels about 75-80 percent where he was conditioning-wise last spring. He's also hoping a healthy focus on conditioning and lots of extra running will help him return to his previous physical form in relatively short fashion.
"I'm probably about 75-80-percent conditioning-wise to where I was during the spring," Bailey admitted. "I missed a lot of conditioning over the summer and gained about 13-pounds since the spring."
How long does Bailey anticipate before he's back in the shape he was in last spring?
"I'll be back by the time next week rolls around," Bailey boldly predicted. "Probably by the middle of next week I'll be 100-percent from working with Coach Veltkamp."
"Off the field, I'm working in the weight-room and doing cardio, and of course I'm doing some extra running," Bailey continued. "Coach Veltkamp has taken me in and has told me that he appreciates that I'm working hard and being a man about the situation and taking my punishments."
But Bailey doesn't view the extra work as punishment, only a blessing to back on the team. Additionally, it's evident to practice spectators that Bailey is putting forth solid effort, often finishing first during running drills following practice.
"I don't look at the situation as a punishment," Bailey said. "I look at it as a blessing to be back on the team."
Throughout his off-season turmoil, Bailey said his teammates were extremely supportive and expalined that he's trying to show his appreciation for that support by working hard and doing the right things on the field.
Possessing quickness from his end position, Bailey thinks new defensive coordinator Mike Cassity's more aggressive approach is a better fit for the team's defensive personel.
"As a team, we just want to be more aggressive on defense," Bailey said. "Coach Cassity has a more aggressive style than Coach Gilhamer and we're just trying to work as one unit, run to the ball and play with intensity."
Because of the loss of tackle Tyrone Saterfield for academic reasons, Bailey, who hopes to get his weight back down in the 285-pound range, said he hopes to become an effective contributor at both the end and tackle positions this season.
"As for myself, I just want to learn the tackle position and keep up my end," Bailey said. "I just need to get back to my playing weight and conditioning so I can play both and be successful."