Diamond in the Rough: Jackson Bailey

Jackson Bailey is a dual-sport, senior outside linebacker for the Red Oak Hawks in Red Oak, TX. He plays football and runs track and currently recorded as 6’2 and 220 pounds. Jackson’s able to read and react to players quickly and efficiently. He uses his strength and size to disengage from his opponents and bring down ball-carriers. During his junior season, he contributed to Red Oak’s 11-2 record and a third-round playoff appearance in the Texas 5A D-II. This season, Jackson is focusing on improving his pass rush, staying in shape, and winning state. Due to the spread of COVID-19, social distancing affected the college football recruiting process tremendously. Social media became a primary resource for coaches to get in touch with players which caused many students to change how they were evaluating potential college programs. Nonetheless, Jackson found that the University of Arizona’s football program suited him best. He committed to the Wildcats at the beginning of May this year despite having offers from Illinois State, Jackson State, Kansas, SMU, UTSA, and several other schools.

When did you start playing football? What made you want to play this sport?

I started playing football when I was 4. Once I started playing, I started to like it and just kept doing it.

What is your favorite thing about your position?

Probably man coverage because I have a lot of speed. I can keep up with any receiver that steps in front of me. I use my speed as an advantage. I’m long too, so if they feel like they’re open, I just stick my hand out and swipe the ball down and show them they’re not open.

Do you play any other sports? Talk about your positions and how they help you on the football field.

I run track. It’s helped me a lot because it keeps me in shape during the offseason. I have offseason and track, so I’m 100% in shape and it’s making me faster to track down the dudes that think they’re getting upfield but they’re not because I’m faster than them.

What are some goals you have for this season?

Go win state. I really don’t have any other goals besides winning state. I already have my offers and all I want to do is maintain them.

What has been the highlight of your football career?

Probably, December 2018 to March 2019, I went from looking like a stick to a linebacker. I got real big and that’s what really got everybody’s attention. I believe thats a part of how I got recognized, getting recruited.

What is your favorite thing about playing football in Texas?

Texas football is better than any other state in my opinion. They show love, there are a lot of fans at the games. If you went to a playoff game in the AT&T Stadium, there are people that don’t even know your school coming to watch the game just because. They come out and watch and support.

What would you tell younger players who hope to play high school football one day?

I’d tell them don’t stop working and don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do. When I was in 9th grade, all I heard was only 1% would go D1 out of my whole class. Now, over 50% of my class from that same room is going D1.

Do you have a favorite NFL or college athlete?

Probably, Isaiah Simmons. He plays for the Cardinals and he just got drafted this year from Clemson. Also, Bobby Wagner.

What motivates you to do what you do (why do you play)?

Really cause I know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m not really confident in it to be honest. I play football to try to make it to the league. Quick and easy. Get rich real fast.

In major games, how do you handle pressure?

It’s kind of off and on. If I mess up and get yelled at, in the moment, I’ll get mad. I’ll use Braswell, our playoff game as an example. They were about to come back on us from a 35-0 advantage in the fourth quarter. Three of those plays probably would have lead them to score if I wouldn’t have stopped them. Then, you have the Aledo game, who was losing at first, I played bad under pressure, so I would say it’s a 50/50.

Image provided by senior OLB, Jackson Bailey

Do you have any hobbies outside of sports?

I like to play Madden and 2K all day.

How often do you think you watch film?

Every day.

How hard was it for you to stay in shape since the beginning of the pandemic?

Really hard honestly. I feel like I didn’t have any motivation. I had my mom telling me I need to workout and stuff like that, but I would do it and not take myself that serious. I would say it was hard.

What are your strengths as both an athlete and a person?

Always staying positive in any situation.

Have you thought about what you would like to study in college?

I wanted to major in law, but I finished the class. I only had to take three classes in high school, and now that I’m a senior I don’t have to take it anymore. I pretty much lost my interest, so now I have to find something else I’m interested in. Right now, it’s being a college coach if I don’t get to the NFL

What challenges did you come across in getting to where you are at today?

Probably me getting in trouble a lot in school. If I got in trouble in school, I couldn’t play in the game, they’d suspend me from the game. That was something I should have fixed, but nothing else really.

What is one football moment you can never forget.

Dang, that’s hard. Oh! When I got moved from receiver to outside linebacker. Wait, no, When we beat Braswell at the AT&T stadium. When we stopped their comeback and when we won the district championship last year.