The Mountaineers By The Numbers: No. 3
Through the years, West Virginia football has had certain jersey numbers become iconic through the play of the men who wore them. To honor this, Mountaineer Maven is beginning a new series entitled “The Mountaineers By The Numbers”, in which we will select the best player to wear each jersey number for the West Virginia Mountaineers football team.
This is an entirely subjective process and if you disagree, let us know! Every edition of the series will include one or more numbers, starting with number one, and running all the way until 100.
Number 3: Stedman Bailey-WR (2010-12)
The contributions of former West Virginia linebacker and coach Damon Cogdell cannot be understated in the history of Mountaineer football.
His role as the head football coach at Miramar High School in Florida. Beginning with defensive back Eain Smith in 2007 and continuing through Yodny Cajuste, the Miami-area school became one of the most productive recruiting pipelines ever for WVU football.
Stedman Bailey, along with quarterback Geno Smith, is among the crown jewels of the connection between Miramar and West Virginia.
A three-star recruit with a solid but unspectacular list of offers, Bailey followed his high school passer to Morgantown in 2010 and joined a deep wide receivers room that included the likes of Jock Sanders, Tavon Austin, Brad Starks and J.D. Woods.
He became a contributor much quicker than expected, catching 24 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns to finish as the third leading receiver on the team. With Sanders graduating and a new offensive scheme under incoming head coach Dana Holgerson, it looked like Bailey had the potential to break out in 2011.
Calling it a breakout would be an understatement.
Forming arguably the most highlight-worthy duo in the nation with Austin, the sophomore exploded for a school-record 1279 yards and 12 touchdowns, tying the school record set by Chris Henry, on 74 catches. Bailey went from a secondary contributor to one of the most productive receivers WVU football had ever seen with seven games of more than 100 receiving yards in just his second year in gold and blue.
The first of these turned out to be the youngster’s true star making performance in a rivalry game against the Maryland Terrapins. With eight catches for 113 yards and a score, Bailey helped usher in the era of the Air Raid at WVU as one of three Mountaineers to go over 100 yards that day along with Austin and Miramar teammate Ivan McCartney.
Breaking the 80 yard mark in ten of his last eleven games, including 82 yards and a touchdown in the Orange Bowl against Clemson, and notching a school record onto his belt, anticipation for Bailey’s junior season was through the roof.
The rising NFL Draft prospect certainly did not disappoint, shattering his own school records and being named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver in one of the most contested decisions in recent memory.
The junior turned up the heat even further on opposing defenses, racking up a new all-time high of 1622 receiving yards while more than doubling the previous receiving touchdowns record with 25. He continued to put together some of the most spectacular performances Mountaineer football has ever seen with seven more 100-yard games, including three that broke the 200-yard mark.
The greatest of these performances took place in West Virginia’s first conference game as a member of the Big 12 as the Mountaineers dueled the Baylor Bears in Morgantown. In that game, his 13 catches tied a school record he had set earlier in the season while his 303 yards obliterated the previous high of 209 set by Henry in 2003.
Adding five touchdown catches in that game as well, Bailey paced what still stands as the greatest aerial performance in school history as Austin tallied 215 yards on 14 catches, outdoing Bailey’s own record-setting number while Woods posted a personal-best 114 yards.
Smith’s 656 yards and eight touchdowns on 45 completions set a trio of single-game records as well as the Mountaineers picked up a 70-63 win. More stellar performances from Bailey came against the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas and finally Syracuse against whom he tallied 121 yards and two scores on eight receptions.
The junior was named First Team All-Big 12 and a First Team All-American.
With his running mates Austin and Smith set to graduate, he decided to enter the 2013 NFL Draft and joined the former with the St. Louis Rams, being selected in the third round. Bailey finished his career as the second-most prolific receiver in school history next to Austin, sitting second in career receptions and receiving yards while setting school records for receiving touchdowns and 100-yard games in just three seasons.
After three years with the Rams, Bailey was wounded by two gunshot wounds to the head during a drive-by shooting in Miami Gardens, Florida. He was placed on the non-football injury reserve list and worked with the team’s assistant coaches during the 2016 offseason.
He returned to WVU later that summer and served as a student assistant under Holgerson while completing his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies.
Paul Woodside-K (1981-84)
Matt Taffoni-LB (1991-94)
Quincy Wilson-RB (1999-2003)
Charles Sims-RB (2013)
Skyler Howard-QB (2014-16)