Bailey Makes Mark at Tight End

While he may not show up at the top of every stat sheet, junior tight end Josh Bailey is an integral part of the Mountaineer offense.

Of course, not tight end under Rich Rodriguez has exactly lit up the tote board with big offensive statistics. Bailey has just nine catches for 120 yards in his two seasons of action with the Blue and Gold. In this offense though, the value of the tight end can't be calculated in passes caught or yards gained.

Heading into his third season as a regular, Bailey will be looking to improve those pass catching numbers, as well as teaming with senior Ryan Thomas to provide a solid one-two punch at tight end for Rich Rodriguez's team. Bailey is listed in the media guide as weighing in at 265, but he says that has changed.

"Earlier this summer I got up to about 285, 286 but then I got some salmonella poisoning and dropped down below 270," notes the 6'6" Gilbert native. He says he hopes to play this season anywhere from 270 to 275 pounds.

Bailey was originally recruited to the Mountaineers by Don Nehlen, and when Rodriguez took the reins in the middle of Bailey's senior year of high school, he honored the in-state commitment.

With all the expectations for this year's squad, Bailey admits that he wants to step up his involvement in the offense, but that doesn't necessarily having every pass thrown his way. After all it was Bailey who, in West Virginia's seventh game last season against Virginia Tech, had the first catch by a Blue and Gold tight end all season.

"Well, every tight end wants to catch the ball, there's no doubt about that," Bailey said. "But in this offense that's not the most important thing we do. We have some plays where we can catch the ball, but a lot of plays we need to open holes for the backs to run through. I'm just as happy making a good block."

For Bailey to be completely effective, he'll have to play through some nagging injuries that have plagued him since the spring. He still wears a large harness on a troublesome shoulder, and has had issues with cramping at times during preseason workouts.

"As a team, we have our goals to win the Big East and win a bowl game. For me, my main personal goal is to just stay healthy. That's my main personal goal."

A healthy Bailey will certainly be a key for the Mountaineer offense this year, especially with Thomas still recovering from a recent bout with back spasms. And while their contributions won't show up a whole lot on the stat sheet, you can bet that the more the Mountaineers get out of Bailey and the other tight ends, the better the offense will be.

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