Familiar Foe

It's no secret that the state of Florida is a breeding ground for talented football players. But after facing off against each other for years on their local fields, many of them earn college scholarships, then travel to all corners of the country to continue their careers.

Most of the time, that means an introduction to new foes and faces, but sometimes those players end up meeting again. That's the case this week for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, wide receiver Stedman Bailey, and their former high school foe, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Bailey and Smith, both graduates of Miramar High School in Miramar, Fla. are no strangers to Peterson's defensive talents. The two current Mountaineers faced off against Peterson when they were juniors and Peterson was a senior at Blanche Ely High school when their schools played against each other in the regular season.

"When we played those guys, we beat them pretty bad," said Bailey. "[Peterson] was actually a safety then. He was always a great player. He always made plays. I'm looking forward to playing against him. He always had pretty good size. They would consider him a man against boys."

While Smith stayed mum when asked about the results of the two teams' 2007 match-up, Bailey was quick to spill the beans on his impressive game against the Parade all-American. Bailey had a banner day where he had four catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Smith was also extremely impressive as the quarterback had six touchdowns and over 400 yards.

Regardless of the 51-12 Miramar victory during their high school face-off, both Bailey and Smith have nothing but good things to say about, and great respect for, their former high school opponent.

"Peterson is a very good guy," said Bailey. "He's labeled as one of the top players in the nation. I remember playing against him in high school and he was still one of the top corners coming out. He's a great guy."

"Patrick Peterson is a great player, one of the best in the nation," Smith echoed. "He's a guy that I played against in high school so I know about him and he knows about me. It's not a game against him. There are eleven guys on the field and they all have to execute. We have to do the same thing."

Peterson earned a display case full of accolades as a high schooler, but that has been just the tip of the iceberg in his career. He's a frontrunner for All-America honors, and is even getting mention as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate. Despite all the well-deserved acclaim, however, Bailey assures that West Virginia's receivers are not intimidated about facing one of the most talented players in the country.

"He's a great player but we're not scared of him," said Bailey. "We're going to go at him and make some plays. I just have to go out and play my game. I can't be scared of him or intimidated. He puts his pants on the same way that I put mine on."


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