December 1, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Stedman Bailey (3) reacts on the sidelines against the Kansas Jayhawks during the fourth quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. The West Virginia Mountaineers won 59-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
With just over three weeks left in the 2012 season, Mountaineer fans all over the country are coming to terms with the end of the Geno Smith and Tavon Austin era at West Virginia.
Mountaineer fans may also need to start coming to terms with the potential loss of Stedman Bailey to the NFL draft in April. What remains to be seen is whether Bailey wants to forgo his senior season for professional football.
As of recent, with the Mountaineers concluding their regular season, Bailey has recited the typical lines about talking with his family or mentioning how great a place Morgantown is.
No one could fault Bailey for saying things like that because this is a major decision that he will need plenty of time to work through his decision, weighing the pros and cons.
So in the spirit of helping Bailey out, let’s weigh the pros and cons for him.
- Stedman is likely to be on of the more highly rated wide receivers in this year’s draft class. He would be in direct competition with teammate Tavon Austin for teams’ attention in the April draft, especially in the latter portion of the first round.
- Being a highly drafted player is sure to guarantee him a hefty payday, a far cry from the stipends that players receive in college.
- In 2013, Bailey will have to play with a new quarterback regardless of whether it is in Morgantown or in one of the 32 NFL cities. Might as well learn a new chemistry with a professional quarterback. If Bailey should slide out of the first round, there is a better chance that he could be paired with his longtime friend Geno Smith or receiving mate Tavon Austin on an NFL team.
- Stedman has made his mark on the WVU football program. Bailey currently owns the single season records for receiving yards (1,501) and touchdowns (23) as well as the career records for career receiving touchdowns (39).
- Should Bailey leaves WVU now, he will finish without owning all the major West Virginia receiving records. Bailey fell 4 receptions shy of the single season receptions record (Tavon Austin 2012 – 110). He would need to come back and put up an even bigger season than this one to take it down. Even if Bailey could not improve on his 2012 performance, he could easily capture the career receptions record and receiving yards record. Bailey needs just 83 receptions and 287 yards to best Tavon Austin for both records.
- If Bailey leaves Morgantown now, he will most likely be short of completing his degree in criminology. It is important that any athlete, regardless of skill level, have a college degree to fall back on after their playing careers are over. With players careers only lasting 3-6 years on average, there is a need to have something to fall back on for the 20 years after football.
- Leaving Morgantown early will keep Bailey from having the opportunity to lead a young Mountaineer squad and to show off his true leadership potential.
- Finally, if Bailey does not come back to WVU next year, he will not have another shot at bringing home the Biletnikoff trophy.
- Bailey is a recent father with a 1-month old child. As tough as it is to live as a broke college student, it must be even tougher to raise a child on a limited budget. Earning big dollars would give his child the opportunity for a better life.
In the end, Stedman Bailey will probably opt to go into the NFL draft in April. To clarify, I have not spoken with Bailey on the topic and have no inside information on the topic. What I do have is common sense, and that dictates that Bailey jump on the opportunity to play in the NFL.
Stedman Bailey is probably valued as a third round draft pick at the minimum after his prolific 2012 season. To put that in perspective, Mohamed Sanu was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 3rd round this past April. Sanu was signed by the Bengals for 4 years at just over $2.7 million. Stedman Bailey would be able to command that kind of money at a minimum.
Bailey could potentially improve his draft stock by returning for one more season in Morgantown, but it would make him far more susceptible to a season altering/ending injury. The easiest example of this scenario is Marcus Lattimore of South Carolins. Lattimore was a shoe in last season to be one of the first running backs selected in the 2012 NFL draft. He passed up the NFL to finish his senior season at UofSC. Unfortunately for Lattimore, he destroyed his knee this season, likely crushing his NFL aspirations.
Believe me, there is no one who wants to see Bailey back in the old gold and blue next season more than me. At the end of the day though, I cannot blame Bailey if he goes to the NFL because, if I were in his position, I would go to the NFL. It’s not like he can’t finish his degree in the off season (if Ben Roethlisberger can do it, anyone can).