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Alvin Bailey always seems to step up

Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) was in a tight game with Miami Central during the Class 6A state high school championship in December.

After jumping out to an early 16-0 lead, Armwood saw Central battling back, cutting their lead to two points on two occasions in the second half. The Hawks needed a big play on offense and coach Sean Callahan called on his playmaker -- Alvin Bailey.

Bailey, a wide receiver by trade, was also a quarterback and running back when the situation called for it. This was one of those situations and, like always, the 6-foot, 170-pound junior was ready to make it happen.

Bailey went 6-for-7 for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. His 80-yard touchdown pass to running back Matt Jones sealed the game. Bailey also caught a 19-yard touchdown pass on a halfback throwback.

"We don't win the state championship without him," Callahan said. "We don't get to the state championship game the year before without him making big catches against Dwyer as a sophomore to put us in position for a game-winning field goal."

Callahan, who has coached three state championship teams at Armwood, gave Bailey the biggest compliment he could think of.

"He's the most competitive kid I've ever coached," Callahan added. "He's the only kid that truly wants the ball when the moment is big."

Bailey just said it's all part of the job.

"I really just do whatever the coaches ask me to and whatever the team needs out of me," Bailey said. "I don't look at it like I'm the reason we win. We are a team."

In a perfect world, Callahan would love to keep Bailey at wide receiver, where he had 22 catches for 376 yards and two touchdowns. But it's hard to ignore Bailey's effective play at quarterback where he led the Hawks with 836 passing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Bailey was also second on the team in rushing with his 833 yards and six touchdowns, mostly coming out of the single wing.

"There are kids that look more impressive physically and there are taller kids, but find me a better football player," Callahan said. "He makes people miss. He can run past the Miami Central guys, the Tampa Jefferson guys.

"He knows the game of football. He has a high IQ for the game. He's the best player in the state, better than the 12 kids we signed this year. Ask Matt Jones, ask Eric Striker and they will tell you the same thing."

Jones, who will be enrolling at Florida in the fall, has made no secret about his desire to have Bailey as a teammate at the next level.

"We definitely need receivers at Florida and he's the best in the state," Jones said. "I'm going to try to get him there.

"He was our guy when we needed to win the game. Maybe we win state without him, but there was no doubt we were going to win as long as he was in the game."

The Gators haven't offered Bailey a scholarship yet but they remain in contact with each other. Meanwhile, Notre Dame, South Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, UCF, Illinois and Mississippi State are the programs that have offered.

Striker, a linebacker headed to Oklahoma, would love to see Bailey leave the state of Florida and head elsewhere.

"Hopefully he wants to leave Florida and join me in Oklahoma," Striker said. "I know he loves the SEC, so it's going to be hard to take him away from that, but he knows he's welcome wherever I am."

Striker added that Bailey's practice regime set the tone for the team in 2011.

"He brought excitement in the game and in practice," Striker said. "You know, sometimes practice gets a little boring, especially as the season goes on, but Alvin was going to get the most out of every rep so he kept me on my game a lot."

Bailey recently attended South Florida's junior day and was scheduled to see Florida but was not able to make it.

"I really liked South Florida and they would probably be in my top five right now," Bailey said. "Some of the guys from this area have stayed home and it's worked out."

However, he isn't too concerned with recruiting right now.

"I'm just taking my time and probably going to get focused on track pretty soon," Bailey said. "There's plenty of time left in recruiting. Signing day is a year away."

Bailey will most likely be a wide receiver but he has hinted that he wouldn't mind continuing to play quarterback.

He can also play defense too, if necessary.

"We put him at cornerback one time, I think it was for one play and you know he got an interception," Callahan said. "And now he's always in my ear about playing both sides of the ball.

"If it were up to him he'd play every snap of every game and participate in every camp and combine during the offseason."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.