|Bailey was a bright spot in a disappointing season for West Virginia. (US Presswire)|
West Virginia was already facing an offensive exodus to the NFL, and it can add one more name to the list: According to coach Dana Holgorsen, junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey plans to throw his name into the 2013 draftafter the Mountaineers' season finale in the Pinstripe Bowl, going out as the most prolific receiver in school history.
While the Mountaineers' season was a disappointment, Bailey's was anything but: Following up a breakout, All-Big East campaign in 2011, he finished the regular season ranked fourth nationally in receptions (106), third in receiving yards (1,501) and first in touchdowns (23), picking up a first-team All-Big 12 nod and a handful of All-America notices for his efforts. He'll leave with more career touchdowns than any other active player, in just three seasons.
Between Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D. Woods, the Mountaineers are losing their top three receivers, who accounted for more than 82 percent of the team's receiving yards and 39 of 42 touchdown receptions. They're also sending off Bailey's old high school teammate in Miramar, Fla., quarterback Geno Smith, who might be the first overall pick in April after shattering every career and single-season school passing record. With Smith at the controls of Holgorsen's up-tempo "Air Raid" attack, West Virginia has averaged 39.5 points over the past two seasons on 493 yards per game.
As a prospect, Bailey is not quite as highly regarded as Smith or Austin -- both of whom are pegged for the first round -- generally falling in the third or fourth-round range due largely to his less-than-ideal size. (West Virginia lists Bailey at 5 feet 10, 195 pounds.) With his production, though, there is little incentive to return to school: He's not going to be any bigger in 2014, and with Smith leaving, he's almost certainly not going to to match this year's numbers, either.