"I want to go somewhere where I can see the field right away. I don't want to sit on the scout team," he told PW Monday. "I'd rather get more playing time than go to the biggest, most prestigious school like Alabama."
He's on track so far. Bailey earned offers from mid level programs Toledo, Akron, Bowling Green and Boston College during his standout sophomore season at Hilliard (Ohio) Davidson but failed to add to that list during his junior year.
But his recruitment picked up again. The outside linebacker scooped an NU offer Jan. 11, and with that came four more offers in a two-week span.
Despite his recruitment heating up, though, Bailey made just two Junior Day visits — Northwestern and Michigan State.
"I really liked the prospect of new facilities," he said about his visit to Northwestern. "They're not bad now or anything, but this looks top notch. Of course, the academics are No. 1 there, and it's my best school in terms of getting a job after college."
At 6-1 and 205 lbs., Bailey lacks size but more than makes up for it with sideline-to-sideline speed. He's the same weight and just an inch shorter than Jimmy Hall, who figures to round out the Wildcats' starting linebacking corps this fall. Bailey's addition would restock a unit poised to lose Chi Chi Ariguzo and Collin Ellis at the end of the season.
Bailey plans on narrowing his list by the summer, and then revisiting every school remaining. He expects to visit his final options "four or five times," and admits that he likely won't make a decision until after his senior season:
"I don't really have anything narrowed down yet, because I'm trying to get more offers at camps still. And before I even look at the football aspect, I want to see if I like the people and the environment and the campus itself. Would I want to go to college here, or just play football here?"
In-conference competition for Bailey is expected to get tougher. Illinois and Indiana have also offered, while Bailey spoke positively of his MSU visit.
The Ohio native would also be partial to hometown Ohio State. Bailey developed a relationship with co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell at a camp in July.
But he won't forget the first Big Ten school to show interest.
"They told me that they don't offer guys at random. Northwestern offers guys who they really want to come. I know I already have a really good school to go to, even if I don't get any more offers."