Within days of his verbal commitment, Ridge Point High linebacker Chad Bailey from Missouri City, Texas, has already thrown down the gauntlet with his future defensive coordinator, Missouri’s DeMontie Cross.
Bailey (6-0, 235), a Rivals four-star prospect and the No. 8 inside linebacker in the 2018 recruiting class, is the highest-rated player among the Tigers’ known commitments at No. 167 overall.
And he’s already gunning for Cross’ career tackles record.
“I’m going to text Coach Cross right now and tell him I’m going to beat his record,” Bailey said.
Not that Cross will complain.
Bailey would have to average more than 100 tackles per season to eclipse Cross’ total of 415 — which, it should be noted, he achieved in only three years.
“I’ve got something for that,” Bailey said when told about Cross’ production as a safety with MU from 1994-96.
Linebacker James Kinney, who totaled 434 tackles from 2001-04, broke Cross’ record, but the Tigers’ defensive coordinator remains second on the all-time list.
Of course, Bailey’s main focus isn’t such individual accomplishments.
“We’re going to go win a national championship and an SEC championship,” Bailey said. “I promise you that.”
Bailey initially planned to wait until September to commit anywhere, but that changed after the Night at the Zou camp last week.
“Once I got up there I really fell in love with the coaches and the atmosphere,” Bailey said. “… They want you to be great, and it’s a family feel and attitude. I always wanted to play in the SEC, so that’s one thing. It was important for me to take visits and, when I went to Mizzou, it just felt right.”
In Bailey, Missouri is getting a versatile player.
Playing primarily outside linebacker last season, he was a force off the edge in pass-rush situations and also is a hard-hitting sure-tackler against the run in the hole or open field.
Bailey also he flashed some coverage ability — with astonishingly good hands — and even lined up at running back on occasion last season for Ridge Point.
During occasional reps at middle linebacker, the position he’s moving to full-time for his senior season, he shows good instincts, a nose for the ball and a knack for shedding blockers.
Bailey said Cross likes him as a middle linebacker, but he’s willing to bump outside if it gets him on the field.
“I told him that’s good news for me, but I also told him I’d also be fine playing the Sam or the Will,” Bailey said. “I just like being in the action. I’ve been playing outside for the past two years, but this year I’ll be playing middle. Once I get to Mizzou, it will be second nature to me.”
Most things on the football come naturally to Bailey.
“He’s got great God-given ability, a great combination of power and speed with a lot of natural instincts,” Ridge Point coach Brett Sniffin said. “I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, he’s an even better teammate than he is a player. He’s great with all kids at all levels at our school. He’s just a great personality and will be an awesome locker-room addition as well as everything he can do on the field.”
Linebacker is a position of need for Mizzou, which has two seniors and five juniors on the 2017 roster with only two players in the graduating classes for 2019 (Cale Garrett and T.J. Warren) and 2020 (Jamal Brooks and Aubrey Miller).
“When you play in the SEC, you can never have enough linebackers, so I think that has something to do with it as well,” Sniffin said. “I think Chad was made for the SEC, and it was actually Chad’s dream to play in the SEC … and I think he fits the mold there perfectly.”
Bailey is a former high school teammate of Missouri freshman cornerback Terry Petry, who Sniffin called “the fastest kid I’ve ever coached.”