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Football

WILLIAMS: JaQuan Bailey stays humble, mature when discussing sack record 

Jul 16, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones defensive end JaQuan Bailey speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The night of Sept. 28, 2017 was picturesque for a Cyclone football fan in Ames. The weather was absolutely perfect. Under the leadership of an up-and-coming second-year coach, Iowa State football was on the rise with one of the biggest brands in the sport – Texas – invading Jack Trice Stadium for ESPN’s marquee Thursday game. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for things to unravel for the good guys. 

The negative vibes began before the game, when the “Bugle” logo debuted, a logo we have yet to see since. 

Cyclone quarterback Jacob Park had a public dust-up with Campbell on national television (which happened to be the last time saw Park in a Cyclone uniform). 

Within Iowa State’s deflating 17-7 loss to the Longhorns, there was one fateful play that I vividly remember. On the first series of the game, sophomore defensive end JaQuan Bailey sacked Texas’ Shane Buechele on third down. A packed Jack Trice went nuts as the Cyclones forced Texas to go 3 and out. 

Then, Bailey did a somersault. 

What?

Why?

Flag. 

Crap. 

Instead of punting, the Longhorns drove down the field and took a 7-0 lead, which proved to be critical in such a low scoring, defensively dominated game.

Fast forward to the present day, and JaQuan Bailey is all grown up. 

“He’s got the best work ethic on our team,” said Campbell of Bailey, who claims he was 20 pounds overweight during the entirety of his freshman season. 

Strong words for a guy who constantly preaches the “process.”

Bailey, who along with his brother, Joshua, chose Iowa State leading up to National Signing Day on 2016 over the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Miami and Louisville among others. He was forced to play earlier than he should have, which is par for the course within a rebuilding a football program.

“To mature during that process is hard but he did a really good job through the end of his freshman year to his sophomore year,” Campbell said. 

It’s because Bailey started listening to the people who were trying to help him. 

“I wasn’t always the best teammate,” Bailey said. “I had to change. I had to grow up.”

Campbell adds…

“He was a great listener to some really important people. What he has done with that is he’s taken that information and gotten himself better every single day.”

Bailey recorded 3.5 sacks as a freshman. He increased that total to 7.0 and 8.0 during his sophomore and junior seasons, which sets him up to make history in 2019. All Bailey needs is a half of a sack to break Shawn Moorehead’s (Rob Gray did a Where Are They Now on Shawn last year) all-time record at Iowa State, which Bailey has currently tied at 18.5 sacks. 

Bailey, who was tabbed second-team All Big 12 as a junior, has become an elite all-around defensive end too, not just a pass rusher. He recorded 14.5 tackles for loss as a junior, which put him ninth in Iowa State’s record books for a season.

Bailey says he has only “peeked at it (the sack record) after the bowl game.”

“I want that record to get beaten once I leave,” Bailey told Cyclone Fanatic. “That would really show me what my legacy is worth. If somebody doesn’t break it for the next 20 years, that tells me I didn’t do a great job.”

Impressive answer. Impressive perspective. 

Something tells me that ‘somersault JaQuan’ wouldn’t have seen it that way. 

JaQuan Bailey is a great football player, but he’s also an awesome story of maturation and personal progress. 

His head coach has a lot to do with it. 

“Dudes on a team joke about calling me his little stepson and all of this other crazy stuff,” Bailey said of Campbell. “It’s a testimony of our true bond. I see Campbell as a father figure. He’s had to show me tough love so that I would be standing here today. I remember my sophomore year having some of the toughest conversations about just small stuff but it made big differences.”