By Maurice Patton
For David Bailey, the next phase of his football career will take place in Decatur, Miss.
The reigning Region 5-5A defensive lineman of the year, who helped Columbia Central to the state playoffs last fall, committed Friday to East Central Community College.
“It’s close to home. It’s a really nice spot to be at,” said the 6-4, 270-pounder, who posted 39 total tackles (eight for loss, including two sacks) as a senior. “It feels nice to commit to a school I feel comfortable with.
“It’ll be nice to play in a stadium with the same name as me.”
The Warriors, who play at Bailey Stadium, finished 4-5 in 2019. One of their products, receiver Antonio Gibson, was selected in the third round of last month’s NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins after completing his collegiate career at Memphis.
“I spoke with one of their coaches a lot through the (recruiting) process the last couple of months – keeping him up to date, him keeping me up to date,” Columbia Central coach Jason Hoath said. “I’m just glad he’s got the opportunity to go play college ball.”
Bailey also considered Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, but felt closer – in more ways than one – to East Central, particularly in light of the recruiting restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 virus.
“I couldn’t really see the school, but East was the only school that ‘Zoomed’ me and showed interest,” Bailey said regarding ECCC, a five-hour drive from Columbia. “The rest just sent pictures.”
In March, East Central opened its new Warrior Hall football operations center. Located just outside the north end zone of Bailey Stadium, the facility contains locker rooms for players and for coaches, a team meeting room, position conference rooms, coaches’ offices, an equipment room, a players’ lounge, and a laundry room. Additionally, a state-of-the-art training room with a hydrotherapy pool for use by student-athletes in all nine of the college’s varsity sports is housed in the building.
Despite the unique recruiting limitations, Hoath is optimistic regarding Bailey’s situation.
“He’s a good fit for what they do (defensively),” the coach said. “They’re going to have a pretty solid defensive line with him in the mix. They seem to think they’ve got two or three (NCAA Division I-caliber) linemen, and they think he’ll be the fourth DI prospect. With a couple of good years of success, I think he’ll have the opportunity to continue his playing career.
“I think the Mississippi schools put a little more stock in their out-of-state commitments. They have limited scholarships (for out-of-state athletes). But I think he’ll do well down there and have a chance to go where he wants in a couple of years.”