By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
For the past three seasons, Fairview quarterback Luke Bailey has dazzled crowds with his dual-threat ability, imposed his will on opposing teams’ defenses and garnered numerous accolades on his way to becoming one of the Aggies’ most-gifted athletes in the last decade.
No longer donning the Purple and Gold, Bailey will now take his talents to the next level, announcing on Friday his intentions to attend and play football for Division III Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
He was joined by his parents, Shane and Trina, coaches and a small gathering of students inside the school’s library.
Bailey, like many other athletes, was thankful the process had finally come to a close.
“It’s a relief,” he said with a smile. “It’s rough not knowing what your future holds or where you’re going to school. It was stressful but I just kind of let it happen. I knew that God would lead me to the right place.”
According to Bailey, he chose Huntingdon over 12 other colleges, ranging anywhere from the states of Florida to Arizona. He said Huntingdon felt like the right place for him.
“When I visited there, I didn’t really plan on much,” he said. “But I met Coach (Mike) Turk, and he told me about the program and their goals and what they stand for. It was exactly what I was looking for in a college.”
The multi-sport athlete will head to a program that has just nine years under its football belt. They were recently added to the USA South Athletic Conference. Bailey said he’ll be going into his freshman season with the mindset of earning early playing time.
“They told me if I compete well there’s a chance that I’ll play early,” he said. “Coach Turk told me they were looking for hardworking guys who don’t mind putting the team in front of themselves and guys who do the right things. It intrigued me.”
Fairview football coach George Redding said Bailey is one of the best kids he’s ever coached.
“You can’t say enough about someone like Luke,” he said. “He’s obviously a great athlete but he’s also an outstanding person and an unbelievable leader. He’s the one who gets up for 4 a.m. workouts. He’s the kind of guy who’s the first one on the practice field and the last one to leave.”
Redding has seen firsthand the damage the quarterback can do on the field and said that, as a coach, you can’t replace a player like that.
“You don’t look to do that,” he said. “He’s left a legacy here. Other guys will raise their level of play because of him. He’s definitely a kid you can build a program around.”
Bailey was certainly a beast on the gridiron for the Aggies, garnering All-State honors in both his senior and junior seasons. The dual-threat quarterback finished the year with 3,268 total yards and 34 touchdowns (19 passing, 15 running). He also passed Redding as the winningest quarterback in school history.
Not only does Bailey excel on the football field, but he’s also gifted in both basketball and baseball as well.
He capped off his senior hoops campaign by eclipsing the career 1,000 point mark and is also one of the best players on the Aggie baseball squad.
Redding was quick to point out admiration for his pupil as a multi-sport athlete.
“I have a tremendous respect for Luke and other kids who play multiple sports,” he said. “Not only is it tough to play all sports and have the ability to do so, it’s really difficult to manage your time.”
It never became a problem for Bailey, however.
“His team always came first,” Redding said. “It’s a testament to what kind of a person he is.”
With the move to Huntingdon, Bailey will be saying farewell to the basketball court and baseball field, but said he welcomes the chance to focus his attention on one sport.
“It’s going to help me a ton,” he said. “It’ll let me experience more and have more fun with it and do a lot more.”
Being the athlete that he is, Bailey has already set the highest goal attainable for when he treks off to college.
“I want to win a national championship while I am there,” he said. “It’s my goal. I’m going there to put in the work and take care of business.”
‰ Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.