The path for Keenan Bailey toward becoming Ohio State’s new tight ends coach began as a journalism student at Missouri.
Through balancing education and an undergraduate assistant position within the Tigers football program in 2013, Bailey — who’d already given up his dream playing on the field but not ready to move on from football — recalls when he refocused his aspiration toward becoming a coach.
“I think when Mizzou went and upset Georgia, between the hedges I was looking around, I was like, ‘J school sounds fun, but we’re doing this,’” Bailey said.
For 27-year-old Bailey, going from a senior advisor to the head coach to a position coach gives him the chance to continue to “add value” in his new opportunity with the Buckeyes.
Moving on from Missouri, he spent two seasons as a recruiting analyst at Notre Dame where he met Tony Alford, the Buckeyes’ current running backs coach. Bailey said Alford is “the reason I came down here” when first arriving at Ohio State in July 2016.
Fast forward eight seasons, and Bailey served a variety of roles, such as an offensive intern and quality control coach on offense.
“Rapid fire, came in with coach Alford, worked with the running backs then moved over, linked up with [Brian] Hartline and the receivers, worked with quarterbacks,” Bailey said. “And then most frequently with the offensive line with coach [Justin] Frye and coach [Mike] Sollenne. And that was the best year, by the way.”
Bailey said shifting focus from “being a route running guy” while coaching with Hartline to “a quarterback guy” with quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and head coach Ryan Day helped him become a more well-rounded coach. He also said working with Frye and the offensive line expanded his football IQ.
Despite not knowing offensive line techniques, such as “a base block versus a cut off” at first, Bailey said the coaches at the position provided a new experience.
“It was something I didn’t know, right, and you can’t grow unless you’re uncomfortable,” Bailey said. “Those two guys, coach Frye, coach Sollenne, are the best offensive line coaches in the country, so just being uncomfortable was awesome.”
Bailey has been regarded as “the best held secret” within the football program by fourth-year tight end Cade Stover. Day said he thinks highly of the new tight ends coach, too.
Day praised the relationships Bailey formed with people — such as past and present players as well as in the recruiting sphere — and said he’s intrigued by what Bailey can bring to the staff.
“I’m excited with Keenan,” Day said. “I think he’s brought unbelievable value here and over his years. I think you’ll hear from the guys on the team and just people who have been around him how talented he is.”
Stover’s return gives Bailey’s tight ends room a boost come the 2023 season. The Buckeyes will also see the returns of third-year tight ends Gee Scott Jr. and Joe Royer, among others who’ve garnered game time at the position.
Ohio State also added four-star recruit Jelani Thurman from Fairburn, Georgia, who stands 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. Bailey said he believes the potential of the room is limitless.
“We’re Ohio State, so the sky’s the limit for all those guys,” Bailey said. “I can’t wait to see just how they work from a day-to-day standpoint with me working for them.”
Former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s departure to become the next head coach at Tulsa created the need for Bailey’s move to tight ends coach.
It’s a position he’s been ready for. The Pompano Beach, Florida, native has fulfilled needs among various responsibilities, and Bailey is already looking ahead to spring practice.
“Everything’s at my disposal,” Bailey said. “It’s been awesome. I’ve got a lot of enthusiasm because I’ve been waiting pretty long for this opportunity. I’m just so eager to get going.”
Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, but his children are free to choose their own paths. The recently retired quarterback joined ESPN on Friday
Tom Brady says he will always support what his children want to do, but he would prefer them not to play football. 45-year-old Brady appeared on ESP
BECOME A SUBSCRIBER AT TIGERILLUSTRATED.com!One of Dabo Swinney's closing thoughts to campers this week will surely spill into his address to official visitors
As you prepare for your fantasy football draft, it’s important to have a sense of rankings and where players are being drafted. O