Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey has come to accept he possesses some extraordinary football skills.
Like the entire state, Bailey can’t ignore what he’s done this season while helping Bolingbrook become a state title contender. With his vision and blazing speed, he’s made 50-yard runs look like ordinary feats. He’s amassed 1,642 yards and 27 touchdowns rushing and thrown for 869 yards and nine touchdowns.
How Bailey has come to terms with his ability and success has been to reflect the credit to whom he believes is responsible for it -- God. In any interview Bailey does, he doesn’t go more than a few sentences without bringing the attention back to his faith.
For Bailey, the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Week, that’s what is more important.
“I just thank God for the many blessings he’s set upon me,” said Bailey, who is 6-2 and 210 pounds. “I don’t want to waste it. He blessed me with that talent. I just want to go out there and have fun and do his will.”
Bailey has combined fun and faith often this season. On every touchdown he’s scored this season, he’s stopped in the end zone and raised his hands and head to the sky.
“I’m thanking God for the opportunity,” Bailey said.
The opportunities have been plentiful, especially during Bolingbrook’s playoff run, which will continue in Class 8A semifinals on Saturday.
Bailey scored five times, including runs of 40 and 44 yards, in last week’s quarterfinal win against Downers Grove South. He broke a 38-yard run on the opening play against Mount Carmel in the second round, added a 34-yard touchdown run later in the game and finished with 127 yards. In the first round, he rushed for 304 yards and had touchdown runs of 12, 66, 71 and 80 yards against Neuqua Valley.
Bolingbrook senior linebacker Antonio Morrison and his defensive teammates have learned not to get too comfortable on the sideline.
“We know he’s going to score and put the ball in the end zone,” Morrison said. “We already know he’s going to do that. We just get ready for the next series and see how fast he can put it in the end zone.”
Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow has come to expect the same. In Bailey’s second year in Bolingbrook’s option offense, he has come a long way.
“Even throughout the season, he’s getting better and better each week,” Ivlow said. “He’s a big kid. When you can get a big kid who can run like that, it’s like having an extra guy who can run the ball. Not a lot of guys are focusing on the quarterback.”
Bailey has had most of his success this season running the ball, but he has made some opponents pay with his arm. Ivlow believed if Bailey put more time into his throwing he’d be an even better passer.
The problem is Bailey’s adoration for football is equal to his adoration for baseball. While other quarterbacks are working on their mechanics in the offseason, Bailey is getting ready to hit a curveball.
“It’s kind of a seesaw,” Bailey said. “Once football season comes, I love football. Once baseball season comes, I love baseball. There’s a point of time where I’ll have to make a decision. It’s hard.”
Plenty of schools have already taken interest in Bailey’s football ability. He’s received offers from Colorado State, Illinois, Iowa, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota and Purdue. Some schools are recruiting him at quarterback and others at wide receiver. Northwestern has told him he could be like current Wildcats sophomore Kain Colter, who has played quarterback and wide receiver.
Bailey said there’s also a chance he could pursue playing baseball and football in college. He hoped to have more conversations with schools about that during the offseason.
For now, his concentration is on the playoffs. Bolingbrook is one game from making a trip downstate.
“You want to soak it all in,” Bailey said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”