By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — It seemed like his whole family was there, along with friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, going back to his Del-Val College and Roxborough High days, when it appeared no major college wanted him.
On Sunday, before 43,000 to watch practice, Rasheed Bailey was in high demand, running from one end of Lincoln Financial Field to the other, reaching out and shaking hands, signing autographs for anyone with an extended football, or mini-helmet, a magazine and a Sharpie in their hands. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound undrafted Eagles rookie free agent wide receiver was enjoying the moment—and actually showing what he could do with a number of fine catches with the third team during the Eagles’ open practice to the public.
Last season, Bailey had 80 receptions for 1,707 yards and 19 touchdowns—setting school single-season records in all three categories. Bailey led all of Division III in receiving yardage, yards per game (155.2 avg) and receiving touchdowns. His 11 catches tied a single-game school record in the Aggies’ season-opening win at Montclair State. He set a single-game record with 252 receiving yards in a win over Albright, tied a single-game mark with 4 receiving touchdowns in back-to-back wins over Lebanon Valley and Albright—and was the heart and soul of a Delaware Valley team that began 9-0 and finished 9-2, which included a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Bailey was named Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Southeast Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference, to D3football.com First Team All-American, and Associated Press (AP) First Team Little All-America Squad.
He’s a true underdog football story.
“This is a blessing, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Bailey, who’s quickly become an Eagles’ inner-office favorite, willing to do any public appearance the team asks. “I’m not just happy to be here, though. I feel like I have a legitimate opportunity to make this team. I think the Eagles coaching staff likes me. Like Chip Kelly always says, I have a growth mindset. I’m going to give it everything I have—100-miles per hour.
“I’m willing to be a practice squad player (which earns $107,100 a season). Anything I can do to be a part of this organization. It’s the best organization in the world, the way they treat their players, how they’ve treated me. I’m proud to be a part of this right now. They’re telling me to play hard, they tell me to do what they tell me to do, handle special teams and I’m willing to do anything they ask me. Handle what you can handle, and do what you can do. That’s a big part of this. I’m with all of these Division-I players and I’m not surprised at all. I always knew mentally that I had it. It’s all about being mentally strong in this game. I watched games here at the Linc. I used to look down. Now I’m looking up.”