Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. In this edition, we talk the latest with one of Alabama’s top 2020 quarterback targets.
Harrison Bailey, the person
MARIETTA, Ga. — Harrison Bailey spent three hours at a 10-year-old’s birthday party last year. Bailey had no relationship whatsoever to the kid. A woman asked Marietta coach Rich Morgan if Bailey could come to his party because her son was enamored with the star high school quarterback.
Without question, Bailey went to the party and hung out with the birthday boy and all of his friends.
“That’s the type of kid he is,” Morgan told SEC Country. “He does anything to help other people. You are getting someone who is great on and off the field and a great leader. He’s really the whole package. He’s a great fit for anybody.”
Bailey, one of Alabama’s top quarterback targets in the 2020 class, is likely going to wrap up his recruitment by the middle of the 2018 season. The main reason why has nothing to do with himself. It has everything to do with his teammates and community.
“I really want to win a national championship here at Marietta,” Bailey said. “It’s something our school and community needs. My freshman year we were 3-7 and now we’re going to be a preseason top 25 team in the country. It’s due to all of the coaching we have here, and I feel like we have a chance this year. So I want to get the school I am going to out of the way and focus on Marietta.”
Harrison Bailey, the prodigy
Bailey is the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback, according to 247Sports. His dad got him interested in playing quarterback at age 6. He was becoming one of the bigger kids for his age, and he was either going to end up playing quarterback or defensive end. Bailey stuck with quarterback because he said he just felt natural throwing the ball. He threw a soccer ball around when he was younger.
The path to becoming one of the most coveted quarterbacks in the country officially began in eighth grade when Miami coach Mark Richt was the first to offer him a scholarship. Before he played a snap in high school, Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M and several other schools would offer him a scholarship.
There was a good reason why powerhouse programs offered Bailey at such a young age. At Hillgrove Middle School, Bailey, who was then 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, led the Hawks to a championship in the eighth grade. He passed for 1,667 yards and rushed for 1,207 yards while scoring 39 total touchdowns in just eight games.
He took his first visit to Tuscaloosa shortly after his final middle school game, and it’s a trip that brought a smile to Bailey’s face when he recalled it.
“I got to try on an Alabama jersey back when I was in the eighth grade,” Bailey said. “They had won the national championship that year. I was just chilling with a jersey on, and I loved it. That was at the beginning of my recruiting process, so I was just getting used to it all.”
— Harrison Bailey (@HBailey_05) July 23, 2016
Since I started covering recruiting in 2015, Bailey always has found a way to compete with quarterbacks older than him. He traveled to California to attend Steve Clarkson’s QB Retreat last year, where quarterbacks such as Georgia’s Jake Fromm, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Michigan’s Shea Patterson and West Virginia’s Will Grier competed. Bailey held his own in that setting.
Marietta coach Rich Morgan said he thinks Bailey is the best high school quarterback in the country.
“If there’s one better than him, I haven’t seen him,” Morgan said. “I think he’s the best quarterback in any class. I think he’s just outstanding. He’s got all of the tools. He’s got the physical makeup. He’s got the mental makeup. He’s a great leader. He’s got a 3.6 GPA. His teammates follow him. He’s an all-around great kid. I think he’s a special player.”
Bailey’s willingness to compete doesn’t scare him away from Alabama, where it might be difficult for a Class of 2020 signee to see the field right away. If he commits to the Crimson Tide, here’s a look at what the quarterback room could like if zero transfers happen and if Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t declare for the NFL draft after his junior season:
- Senior: Tua Tagovailoa
- Redshirt junior: Mac Jones
- Redshirt freshmen or sophomores: Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson
“I really don’t mind at all,” Bailey said of the quarterbacks who would be in front of him at Alabama. “I actually would prefer to compete instead of just me stepping in and automatically knowing I am going to play. I love competing. The two quarterbacks that would be in front of me [Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa] can spin it, but I feel like I can compete with anybody.
“I just love competing. That’s all I can say. It never fazes me to compete. I have a vision for myself, and if I stay along that track, then I know I am going to succeed eventually and meet my goals.”
The one story that says all you need to know about Bailey’s desire to do whatever it takes to compete dates back to last season. Marietta was down 20-18 to Pebblebrook late in the fourth quarter. Marietta stuffed Pebblebrook inside the 5-yard line with a few minutes to play.
Bailey threw the game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute to play. It was his last touchdown of the regular season.
“He led the team 85-plus yards with a broken collarbone and threw the game-winning touchdown pass,” Morgan recalled. “He didn’t know he broke it until we took the shoulder pads off. It was clear that it was broken with the way the bone looked. That kid played and led a game-winning touchdown drive with a broken collarbone. That just tells you about his toughness and how much he cares about his teammates.
“We lost him for the rest of the season, but he came back for the playoffs. He didn’t have to come back. He got cleared on a Tuesday and threw 4 touchdown passes on a Friday. That’s how special he is. Toughness and competing isn’t a question for him. His teammates love him for it. He came back and led us on a nice playoff run, which was the furthest this school has gone in 25 years.”
Harrison Bailey, potential future Alabama QB?
Since the 6-foot-5, 225-pound prospect’s first visit to Alabama in the eighth grade, Bailey estimates he has been to Tuscaloosa eight to 10 times. Bailey said Alabama is the school he has visited the most since he became a national recruit. Tennessee is a close second.
What keeps Bailey going back to Tuscaloosa?
“I just like going back because of the people and Coach [Nick] Saban,” Bailey said. “Most of the time I go there, they have a new coaching staff. It’s in a good way, though. It’s not like they are getting fired or anything like that. They’re just going to the pros or becoming head coaches. I just have a good relationship with everyone there.”
Bailey said he is strongly considering Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee. There are other schools, too, but those are the ones he listed.
Bailey said he prefers to play in a pro-style offense. He doesn’t have any problem running the ball, but he doesn’t want to run the majority of the time as some spread-system quarterbacks do.
According to Bailey and Morgan, Saban has told both that the Crimson Tide staff has seen him throw enough at Marietta and in Tuscaloosa to know that he is the quarterback they want in the 2020 class. Saban told Morgan that Bailey checks off every box needed to play quarterback at Alabama.
Now, Bailey has started to build a relationship with new quarterbacks coach Dan Enos.
“He’s an intelligent dude,” Bailey said of Enos. “He knows his football. He’s just a smart guy. You can have a conversation with him, and you’ll learn so much more than what you thought you did. So, for example, I would draw up a play and write down the formations that would go along with it. He taught me a way to draw up a play and use his system to help me really understand how to use the play to fit the formation of the defense.”
But ultimately, it’s Bailey’s relationship with Saban that could pay off when he ends up making his college decision in the coming months.
“I feel like he’s one of those coaches that if you ever need something from him, he’s going to do it for you,” Bailey said. “If your car broke down, he’s going to pick you up. He’s just that kind of guy. The relationship I am building with Coach Saban is great. I am starting to feel more comfortable with him. At first, it’s Nick Saban. Everyone’s heart is beating fast. I feel like I can just go into his office now and kick up my feet and have a regular conversation with him, and that’s how I like it.”
Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings recruiting notebook right here.