By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
The St. Louis Rams apparently liked what they got out of West Virginia University’s Tavon Austin in the first round so much that they used their third-round pick to select his alter ego Stedman Bailey to play an outside receiver.
The two combined to catch 228 passes last season, each hauling in 114 to tie for the WVU school record. They combined for 2,911 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Bailey actually had more yardage and touchdowns than the No. 1 pick with 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. Both were school records. Austin had 1,289 and 12 touchdowns, but he also ran the ball and was the prime kick returner.
The presence of both receivers, however, has to make Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford more productive.
“Look like me and my main man @iamSB3 back at it congrats shorty!!!!” was what Austin tweeted minutes after the draft pick.
“We’re going to help motivate each other and continue to work hard to bring a Super Bowl to St. Louis,” Bailey said after being drafted.
Bailey declared for the draft with a year’s eligibility left prior to the Pinstripe Bowl and did so with WVU coach Dana Holgorsen’s blessing.
“I think it is time for him to go,” Holgorsen said. “He has a child now. I think the biggest thing is that he has had two tremendous years in a row. Geno (Smith) is leaving, and his relationship with him probably has something to do with it. We talked about it. I didn’t discourage it. It was on his mind and he wanted to do it, so I don’t think it would be fair for me to try and talk him out of it.
“I support him, and he’ll be a great pro,” Holgorsen continued. “If you put two good years together as a receiver and you’re an underclassman, then you have a chance to do some good things at the next level, and that’s what they look for.”
Bailey, who was a high school teammate at Miramar High in Florida of quarterback Geno Smith, accompanied him to the draft when he was invited as a potential first-round pick.
“I want to be there to see Geno shake Roger Goodell’s hand, be in his corner like I’ve always been,” Bailey said. “I’m very blessed to have a friend in Geno who is like my brother. Our hard work over the years together got us to where we are.”
The draft continues today, and it’s thought that WVU center Joey Madsen has a chance to be selected.