"I didn't qualify out of high school, so I had to find a junior college," Hakeem Bailey explained. "I was just looking around at who some of the top junior colleges were that year. Iowa Western was like #3 in the country, so I e-mailed them and it sort of started from there. I developed a good relationship with the coaches and thought this would be a good place for me."
Making the transition from the warm summers of the south to the cold winters of the mid-west, took some time. The 6-1, 180 pounder reports that learning how to handle a different type of precipitation was among the bigger challenges.
"It's a different setting up here in Iowa and definitely different weather than what I grew up with," Bailey shared. "We don't get a lot of snow in Georgia, so this was all new to me. When I first got up here, it felt like it snowed from November to February."
Bailey considers his one year on the field at Iowa Western to be a successful one. Despite the team coming up short in a Bowl game against Holmes Community College, Bailey has no complaints.
As a redshirt freshman in Council Bluffs, Bailey recorded 40 tackles and five interceptions in 11 games on the season. That level of production has him on the recruiting radar of several programs.
"The main ones I have been hearing from are West Virginia, Virginia Tech, UAB, Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati. All of those schools have offered except for Virginia Tech," Bailey shared. "I just started hearing a little bit from one of the coaches at Georgia and its the same with Kentucky too. Mississippi State just started contacting me too."
With a visit to Coastal Carolina under his belt, Bailey is considering his options for this weekend. The current plan is to take a trip to see a Big 12 program before making a final decision. While some new options for a weekend visit could emerge, Bailey is just taking things one day at a time.
"I am probably going to visit West Virginia this week," Bailey said. "I only have a few more days to make a decision, so I am thinking about everything right now. I just want to find the right place for me to play the next two to three years.
"You never know what is going to happen, so I am just going to see how it goes and then make my decision."
Bailey redshirted his first year at Iowa Western, so unlike many other junior college players he has three years of eligibility left. Once finals are complete this week, Bailey plans to return to Georgia, make his decision and then enroll at his new college home in January.