Zackary Bailey once decided football wasn't for him, but he is now one of the top recruited linemen in the state.
Bailey's introduction to organized football came in Washington State through the Pop Warner youth league. After one season he decided he had had enough.
“I didn't like it,” he said. “I didn't have the greatest season and didn't really get along with my coaches so I didn't want to play.”
Fortunately for Green Wave fans, he reconsidered after his family moved to Summerville. “I realized football is a religion here so there really wasn't any way to not play,” he said. “In eighth grade I picked it back up and that's when I started learning the fundamentals.”
That year he helped the DuBose Middle School football team to an undefeated season.
As a freshman, Bailey joined the Green Wave JV team as a defensive end but didn't play much. At the end of the season he was moved to the offensive line and things started to really look up for him athletic wise.
As a sophomore he became a starter on the Green Wave varsity offensive line, where he has been ever since.
Now a rising senior, Bailey switches from left guard to left tackle depending on where coaches need him most.
“I prefer playing guard so I can pull,” he said. “I like moving around and hitting people. You get to pull some as a tackle too, but for me playing guard is more fun.”
Bailey has grown a foot in the offseason and gained roughly 15 pounds. The 6-6, 320-pound lineman is hoping to put the extra size to use in the fall.
“Sometimes weight can be a good thing, but it makes conditioning harder,” he said. “I'm going to have to make sure I stay in the gym. I haven't lifted as much lately because I've been focusing on getting my GPA up. Now that I have, it's time to get busy trying to get my squat back up, trying to get my bench back up and just trying to get better everyday.”
At the state weight lifting competition he had a 4.92 time in the 40-yard dash. He says while he was happy with that, he would like to get it down to a 4.8.
“I keep reminding myself that I'm not just preparing for this football season, I'm preparing for something bigger because I have college right around the corner,” he said.
If he meets his conditioning goals and his goals of making As and Bs this school year, he should be able to write his own ticket come signing day.
According to ESPN.go.com, Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Oregon and South Alabama are among the colleges that have already made him an offer.
“Right now, my top three are Carolina, Clemson and Georgia, “Bailey said. “I plan to get out to Georgia real soon and I would also like to visit North Carolina.”
He is also considering visits to Florida, Auburn and the University of Southern California.
“I've already visited Carolina, Clemson and Florida State so this summer I'm really looking to see other out of state campuses,” he said.
Bailey also throws the shot put for the Green Wave Track and Field Team. He received All-Lowcountry, All-region and All-state honors in both sports last school year. He also received the Green Wave's Best Blocker Award.
Bailey has four brothers and three sisters, who are all older except one brother. Both his parents were long-term Boeing employees, which is what brought the family to the Charleston Lowcountry.
He hasn't settled on a college major but is considering History, mechanical engineering or criminal justice.