SUMMERVILLE — Zack Bailey walked into DuBose Middle School an average eighth-grader when he moved here in 2010. Only at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he wasnt average.
Do you play football? coaches asked. Bailey didnt know how to answer.
The Bailey family moved from Washington as part of the Boeing companys expansion in the Palmetto State. His football experience in The Evergreen State wasnt a positive one.
When I was living in Washington, all I did was play video games, sit on the couch and eat potato chips, he said. I wasnt real active. I came here and my whole world changed for the better. The mentality here is a lot different than Washington. Its what made my career.
Four years later, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound Bailey is an integral part of the Summerville High football team and one of the most sought-after Class of 2015 recruits in the state.
Bailey didnt know a lot about the sport when he arrived in Summerville, said running backs coach Chris Digby. He credits Baileys work ethic, natural strength and the influence of former Green Wave offensive line coach Buddy King.
He was a big ol kid and he could run we knew that, said Digby, who helped coach the offensive line the last three seasons. Hes been learning and understanding the game a lot better. Its unbelievable mentally how much hes developed over the last couple years. Hes always been big, but hes a man now.
Bailey recently finished second in the state in shot put with a distance of 54 feet, up from 48.4 feet last year. Hes also seen his 40-yard dash time drop from 5.2 seconds as a freshman to 4.93 this year.
He plays left guard for the Green Wave, and most recruiting analysts project him as a guard at the next level. Coaches often pull him and move him to the front side of a play to help clear the way for a running back.
King (now at Goose Creek) is credited with helping Bailey grow into the player he is today, raising his focus on practicing, playing and watching film.
When I mess up, Ill watch film over and over, Bailey said. Right after our game, our film gets loaded up. After our game Im up until 2 oclock in the morning watching film, seeing how I can do things different.
Bailey will spend as much time as he can this summer weighing his recruiting choices and could be committed somewhere by the time the season begins.
South Carolina, Clemson and Southern California are showing the most interest, he said, and hell attend a Trojans camp this month. Hes been to Florida State, South Carolina, Clemson and wants to get to Georgia, Auburn and Florida.
While he likes both instate schools, hes been to more Clemson games but has attended more USC practices and camps. The style of and his comfort level with his future position coach will be a big factor in his decision, he said. He was impressed by Shawn Elliott and his teaching approach with the Gamecocks and wants to see Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell in a camp setting this summer.
Bailey also has a baseball connection to USC and Clemson: Hes close friends at Summerville with Gamecocks baseball commit T.J. Hopkins and Tigers pledge Sawyer Bridges, who is also the Green Waves quarterback.
My goal is to commit somewhere before the season starts, he said. Theres no rush. If Im not 100 percent, Im not going to commit. Im not going to have second thoughts.
Coaches called him a Boeing Baby when he moved to Summerville. Now that hes older and more mature, hes known as either Bailey or Big Country.
He has been humble throughout that growth as a football player and top recruit, Digby said.
Zack is hungry. He recognizes that hes not where he wants to be yet, Digby said. There are five or six teams that have a solid chance. Hes being selective. South Carolina is in the hunt for sure. Hes going to be special for somebody.