The weight on Tyler Bailey’s shoulders no longer crushes the 6-foot-5, 260-pound recent graduate from Edinburg Vela.
Signing days have a tendency to lighten the load.
Texas Christian University will probably start adding weight back to that frame — but not on the shoulders — now that the former SaberCats star offensive lineman has signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Horned Frogs.
“I think I matured pretty quickly through this recruiting process,” said Bailey, who had offers from Missouri, Oregon, Texas Tech and USC, among others. “I had to.”
Bailey and his high school coach, John Campbell, agreed that Bailey started realizing his potential a little late compared to the normal route football players take, especially those who end up at a major program. It ended up, however, being just at the right time as colleges also found him late and came running.
“It’s a neat thing with him being a little bit of the late bloomer,” Campbell said. “He was playing his best football at the tail end of the year and there was a lot of recruiting happening. Between his size, his athleticism and playing really well, it presented some opportunities that looks like the entire country found out about.”
As a sophomore, Bailey, an offensive lineman, weighed 310 pounds. He worked hard to get himself lean, and as the realization grew that he might be able to continue his playing career in college, he started “keeping my head down and just working harder.”
“For me, it was always just a game of fun,” he said. “But after I received that first recruiting call (from LSU), I started taking things a whole lot more seriously. Before, it was a dream but not a reality. I had to step up the pace and get on pace with what’s going on.”
Campbell said he and Bailey had a conversation about what his signing means to more than just Edinburg Vela. Major Division I football signings haven’t happened very often in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I told him that this isn’t a regular occurrence down here,” Campbell said. “There will be a lot of eyes on him because he’ll be representing an area and not just necessarily a school like from the big cities.”
Bailey said after he tweeted that he had signed with TCU, his phone “went crazy.”
“I couldn’t use it for two hours,” he added. “There was a lot of love from TCU fans. I know I’m bringing awareness to the Valley and there are others like (McAllen Memorial’s Campbell) Speights and with (Mission Veterans Landry) Gilpin winning Dave Campbell’s Player of the Year (award) — that’s huge. The Valley is getting more recognition and that’s great.”
Bailey said he received 11 major offers, and the first two schools were LSU and Missouri. He toured all the Big 12 schools, but when he visited TCU, he said everything seemed to be what he wanted — from the coaches and players to the size of school had to offer. The business school — especially in accounting, the area which he wants to focus — also caught his attention.
“Their staff and facilities were absolutely amazing. The academics are top notch and they do everything they can for student athletes,” Bailey said. “I walked into the business school and it was fantastic and then thy said they were building a new one — apparently it was outdated to them.”
Bailey has plenty of room to grow and, in fact, said one of his favorite things to do is get with other offensive linemen from Vela, go out and “hit the buffets — offensive linemen love to go out to eat,” he said. But he also admitted he’s trying to get to a weight where he feels most comfortable and then expects TCU to get him where they want him to be.
In reality, they already have them where they want him to be — as a Horned Frog.