No last name in Georgia Bulldogs history carries quite the same weight as Bailey (just let me make a point, Herschel). Champ Bailey was one of the most versatile college football players ever and one of the reasons UGA went from a five- or six-win team to a 10-win team that beat Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl in 1997.
Bailey played wide receiver and defensive back in college, registering eight interceptions as well as 978 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns across three season in Athens. The guy even carried the ball 21 times in his NCAA career. Bailey was a special talent and was utilized as such before he recorded 52 interceptions over his 15-year Pro Football Hall of Fame career.
Bailey became a household name and a Pro Bowl staple in Colorado during his 10-year tenure with the Denver Broncos. He ascended to elite status at his position and became known as one of the great defensive backs of his generation. NFL.com‘s Gil Brandt even ranked him the 12th-best cornerback in NFL history.
Carrying on the Bailey name in Colorado isn’t easy, but Keevan Bailey is doing just that.
Just don’t call him “Champ Bailey’s son.”
Keevan Bailey’s Recruitment
Keevan Bailey could’ve gone to a number of different states to play ball, but he decided to stay in Colorado where his dad rose to NFL stardom.
He could’ve followed his dad’s footsteps in the SEC and played for Tennessee or Kentucky. ACC programs like Louisville, Syracuse and West Virginia were all options as well. Despite garnering 22 offers, he only took an official visit to one school: Colorado State University.
The Rams were attractive to Keevan because of a man who had a connection to his family. Mike Bobo, CSU’s head coach from 2015-19 before leaving for South Carolina, played at Georgia for two years alongside Bailey.
However, Keevan has maintained it wasn’t his father that pushed him to play for his former teammate. It was his mother.
“Honestly, my mom had a good relationship with Coach Bobo, and that’s how I got in touch with CSU,” Keevan told the Denver Post. “She’s the one who really got to me where I am now. I quit football when I was in fifth grade and she pushed me for three years. She believed in me. She taught me not to be a quitter. I finally started playing football again in eighth grade and she never missed a single one of my games.”Advertisement
Keevan Bailey Colorado State
The 5-foot-11 cornerback may stand an inch shorter and 15 pounds lighter than his father, but he’s starting to turn heads in Fort Collins.
After starring at Salem High School in Conyers, Georgia, where he tallied seven interceptions, 42 tackles and three forced fumbles as a senior and was rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, Keevan was thrown into the fire as a freshman with the Rams.
Against Utah State on Sept. 28, he nabbed the first interception of his career. By October, he was starting his first ever collegiate game against New Mexico. He finishes the season with 19 total tackles and five passes defended.
“He’s a very talented kid, has a great skill set, and as the season went on last year, you just saw things starting to click a little bit more,” Colorado State cornerbacks coach Anthony Perkins told the Fort Collins Coloradoan. “At the beginning of the season, he was relying mainly just on pure athleticism, and as the season went on last year you just saw things starting to click a little bit more.”
Colorado State only played four games last season because of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak, and Keevan only played in two of those contests. Make no mistake, the rising junior will be anxious to show his skills in 2021.
Keevan Bailey Highlights
It’s hard not to see flashes of dad when watching Keevan Bailey.
He’s got solid height for a defensive back, can read a quarterback’s eyes and can anticipate throws before making a quick break on them.
Keevan is just getting started for Colorado State football, and even if he doesn’t wind up making 12 Pro Bowls or earning four All-Pro selections, that’s perfectly fine. In fact, he doesn’t want to be the next Champ Bailey or be known as just Champ Bailey’s kid.
“Once I make a name for myself, that’s what people are going to know me for — not who my dad is,” he told the Denver Post. “I’m Keevan Bailey, and I’m my own man.”
This post was originally published on March 10, 2020 but has been updated.