Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We check in Wednesday with an update on Marietta sophomore QB Harrison Bailey. He is already elite in every sense of the term.
MARIETTA, Ga. — Harrison Bailey has been one of those scratch-your-head kinds of guys for at least 18 months now.
But the 6-foot-4 1/2, 220-pound sophomore makes one wonder if the state of Georgia now produces more elite QBs than kudzu. Bailey, in the Class of 2020, has evolved from “could be” to “will be” to “is” about as fast as anybody could project.
- He looked like he could be special last spring, prior to his freshman year.
- Bailey showed what he will be just last fall when he threw for 2,812 yards and 21 scores on a 3-7 team.
- I saw him this week. He is clearly one of the top 5 QBs in the state. He might be in the top 3.
That’s quite the climb for a young gun who can’t keep his hands off Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls and still blasts zombies on his XboxOne.
But I watched him throw this week and thought: Will a ball ever hit the ground in practice when he’s a senior? They barely do now.
The sophomore has all the offers he could want. Mark Richt offered for Miami in February 2016. North Carolina followed that April.
Bailey picked up Florida and Texas A&M that June. Alabama and Ole Miss delivered their offers last July.
Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee have ponied up scholarships, too.
Cam Newton sought Bailey out when he was 14 years old at a prospect camp. He wanted to meet the eighth-grader who was dissecting secondaries spilling over with junior and senior prospects.
Newton told him to keep working. Improving. Bailey has done exactly that.
Harrison Bailey is the latest Georgia great
It seems pretty lame to come up with a line like Bailey is the next Trevor Lawrence. Or even Deshaun Watson or Davis Mills or Jake Fromm or Justin Fields, at that.
That stuff reads pretty backward to me when the oldest of those players just entered the NFL and only two of those players are even in college. Arm talents like that should not be expected every year or even every five years, but that seems to be the way the state now spits out college bedrocks every fall.
Arm talents like that should not be expected every year or even every five years, but that seems to be the way the state now spits out college bedrocks.
It reads more like an assembly line. Watson’s class was in 2014. Brice Ramsey and Josh Dobbs came out in 2013. Those were top 10 players, but let’s all remember that Ramsey was just the No. 100 player overall by the 247Sports composite that year.
There really wasn’t another QB in the top 100 for the state in 2015 or 2016. But then came 2017.
Mills (Stanford) was rated No. 15 overall coming at Greater Atlanta Christian. Fromm (UGA) ranked No. 50 overall. That was just the prelude.
The 247Sports composite rating for 2018 lists Lawrence (Clemson commit) at No. 1 overall, with Fields right behind him at No. 3. Heard County’s Emory Jones (Ohio State) ranks as the nation’s No. 32 overall prospect. Central Gwinnett’s Jarren Williams (Kentucky) is a comparable top 10 talent who earned an Elite 11 invitation this year over Jones.
Add Bailey’s name to that list. The sophomore belongs in that conversation of the top 5 quarterbacks in Georgia. The state doesn’t have a comparable arm to Bailey in the 2019 class, but Buford’s Aaron McLaughlin likely will also rise to national prominence in 2021.
Where are all these quarterbacks coming from?
Bailey credits the impressive wealth of quarterback trainers and private instructors around the Metro area. The work that noted quarterback coach Tony Ballard has done with him has been invaluable.
“A great quarterback coach like Tony and Quincy [Avery] really helps a lot,” Bailey said. “Those guys are getting us ready and giving us everything we need to be successful.”
Ballard has worked with Mills and many others. He’s a Sherpa because he helps golden arms get to the mountaintop in playing the position. His resume speaks for itself there.
The recruiting read on Harrison Bailey
Bailey is by no means a diva quarterback. He works. His eyes are straight ahead. He keeps his Apple Watch on at practice every day because he wants to keep track of his steps.
He’s vastly talented, but the polish on his game at this age comes because he works at least 10 to 15 hours per week on getting better. That’s beyond his obligations to his team. Bailey worked at Marietta in the mornings every day this summer. Then he worked on being a better QB in the afternoon. Those were his two-a-days. Every summer day.
Marietta’s standout QB also values those he spends the most time with.
“I’m really for my teammates and my family,” he said. “I’m going to be around and be there for the same people that are here for me every day. Loyalty is big for me. I love my teammates to death. I would do anything for them.”
Bailey has been invited to all of the showcases and 7-on-7 events and held his own. He also attended Steve Clarkson’s well-known Quarterback Retreat and soaked up all he could. Shea Patterson, the quarterback at Ole Miss, offered some advice.
“Shea Patterson told me to take it really slow,” Bailey said. “He told me not to make a decision based on how I feel or a great feeling on a great visit. He told me to make the decision based on what’s best for me and my family and ultimately everyone around me.”
Florida was Bailey’s dream school growing up. The Gators were one of his first three offers, and he attended Friday Night Lights camp last month. Bailey was there with a pair of elite 5-star 2018 QBs in Matt Corral and Justin Fields.
He’s watching the recruiting circus surrounding Fields. He sees it is not easy for a 5-star QB to wait until his senior season to make a final commitment.
“I feel like that would be pretty tough,” Bailey said. “You’d have to get a lot of information and a lot of time with people and coaches and stuff. But I feel like he could do it. I feel like I could do it, but that would not be the ideal plan.”
Colleges aim to have a quarterback commit prior to his junior season. That’s when Jacob Eason committed to Georgia. Trevor Lawrence almost followed that path but then waited until after his junior season to choose Clemson.
“I do kind of have a plan,” Bailey said. “I think I’m probably going to commit after my sophomore year. Either that or I will take a whole bunch of visits and go and commit before my junior year and I like that idea. That means you can go and build teammates around you.”
How does Harrison Bailey feel about UGA?
DawgNation is wondering the obvious right now in regard to Bailey. Would Jacob Eason plus Jake Fromm plus Justin Fields likely drop the Bulldogs out of the running?
That would be a logjam of quarterbacks. Bailey even laughed at the thought of that quarterback room. Fields, if he chooses UGA, will not have a shot at starting until 2019. The likely duel between Fromm and Fields would last until 2020.
If Fields redshirts, he could hold the job until at least 2020.
“I have kind of thought about that,” Bailey said. “I mean I love Justin. Great kid. I wouldn’t mind coming in and competing with him if that was absolutely the school I had the most desire to attend and come in and play for. But if I want to play as a freshman or even as a redshirt freshman, I have to make sure to look at all my best options.”
That is a tough question for a competitor like Bailey to think about right now.
The depth the Bulldogs could potentially have under center might cost them a shot at the state’s No. 1 QB for 2020.
Remember the Jim Chaney quote about the quarterback room from this weekend?
“With all the competition we have, we are all going to get better, including me,” Chaney said. “So that’s a good thing about this room. I like it. It’s competitive. Our job, and I think Georgia’s job and everyone’s job, is to make sure that room stays as competitive as it can for a long time. [Do] you want to have a good solid football program? Keep that room really nice.”
Bailey doesn’t hear too much from UGA at this time.
“Georgia has been steady,” Bailey said. “But I really feel like they are recruiting a 2018 quarterback right now. They are just trying to get their 2018 guy first and then I feel they will really start working on their 2020 group.”
Watch for the Florida Gators
Bailey said his two-day visit to Florida went “pretty good.” He was there for their sophomore night and then Friday Night Lights with Corral and Fields. The succession plan at QB for Florida looks good with Corral coming in for 2018. Bailey would have a prime chance to follow him in 2020.
“Friday Night Lights was a phenomenal atmosphere,” Bailey said. “A lot of people. A lot of eyes on the field. I thought I performed well. Could have done better. Just a great camp. I was glad to work with those coaches.”
He is setting aside the strong feelings he had for the Gators as a young kid.
“It is still a great school for me to attend, but I still look at them just like I look at every other school,” Bailey said. “That is going to be trying to find the place where I can succeed and the best place for me to go.”
There is another strong pull for the Gators.
“My mom is a big Florida fan and she wants to see a game at night at home so we will probably take a visit there,” Bailey said. “Then of course after that, you will have your usual visits I would like to take to see the Alabama and Tennessee games and stuff like that.”
Which schools have impressed Bailey?
The Oregon Ducks from the Pac-12 are in play here. So is North Carolina.
“Oregon’s stock has shot up a lot,” Bailey said. “They have really been after me, and I am actually going to take a visit there on Sept. 28 or Sept. 29.”
He said he’s looking for a strong staff with a heavy hand on the offense. A coach who was once a quarterback or an offensive coordinator would be a nice fit. He wants to go to school in a great college town. The location of where he plays will matter to him.
Which schools have established the best relationships so far?
“North Carolina has shown me a ton of interest,” Bailey said. “They have shown me what they are really like. They really want me. Of course, there’s Florida here, too. The time I have spent around those coaches has really helped a lot. I’m starting to really consider Alabama here as well, even though they keep getting new coaches. They win and they always have good quarterbacks. … Clemson’s interest is starting to build for me even though they have not offered yet.”
What to look for from Bailey in 2017
Marietta has stacked up the receivers for Bailey. It starts with 2019 standout Ramel Keyton. Keyton is a mismatch once he hits the field and will play both inside and outside this fall.
He’s been offered by most of the big boys in college football. Look for his profile in the coming days.
Keyton has a horde of help.
“There are six guys there for us at receiver with major Division I offers,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said.
It will feel like Bailey is working with his Fundamentally Sound Sports 7-on-7 team’s receivers this fall.
“There’s a lot of guys here,” Bailey said. “I’m blessed with a lot of good athletic receivers. We’ve got Ramel, Arik [Gilbert], Scoobie [Ford], Jaquez [Smith], Kobe [Stewart] and Taji [Johnson]for us. Those are about all we would ever need really.”
Bailey has gotten better at the mental side of his game over the last six months.
“The Harrison that played in 2016 kind of understood the offense,” Bailey said. “We didn’t have as many weapons. We had a couple. This year I will go to one, two, three or ultimately even get to a fourth receiver with my reads. Or just get the ball out of bounds.”
He said matter of factly that no quarterback in the state should feel better about his weapons. He’s set a benchmark of 4,000 passing yards for this season. Bailey said he feels everyone is “sleeping” on Marietta, which he predicted could be in for a deep playoff run.
Lawrence can shatter all of Watson’s state career passing marks for a Georgia quarterback this year. But Bailey has the talent and weapons to surpass those marks in his senior season in 2019.
“He has a better understanding of the offense this year,” Morgan said. “He understands pass protections better and goes now to his third and fourth read. Harrison knows where everyone is going to be, but when those guys are not in the right spot, he can tell them what they did wrong and where they should have been.”
“I made the corrections for him last year. Harrison can now make those corrections on his own.”
Bailey was trying to figure out the offense last fall. He’s got that down but now also understands the defenses.
“I like his demeanor,” Morgan said. “He’s only a sophomore but I like how he never gets rattled. There is a complete calmness about him. Nothing shakes him. I think that is what separates the good quarterbacks from the great ones. His mindset is where it needs to be great. He’s not just a kid with a big arm. He’s got everything.”