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Transfer lineman Jack Bailey excited to reunite with former Kent State coaches with CU Buffs

Kent State offensive lineman Jack Bailey against Washington on Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Kent State offensive lineman Jack Bailey against Washington on Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Jack Bailey was disappointed in December when he heard the news of his coaches leaving Kent State.

After four seasons with the Golden Flashes, the only head coach (Sean Lewis) and offensive line coach (Bill O’Boyle) that Bailey has known were heading to Colorado.

“For sure bummed,” said Bailey, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound guard. “But, I knew I had to get my degree and I had one semester left. I’m just glad it all ended up working itself out in the end.”

Last month, Bailey made the decision to transfer to CU and reunite with Lewis and O’Boyle. New CU head coach Deion Sanders hired Lewis to be the Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator and O’Boyle to coach the offensive line.

“Honestly that was the final deciding factor (in transferring),” said Bailey, who will graduate from Kent State this month. “I’ve never really been out west or anything so I didn’t know much about it out here but as soon as I got a call from coach OB, it was something I knew I had to do. The relationship that I’ve had within the past four years is something that’s built on blood, sweat and tears.”

Bailey grew up in Willoughby, Ohio, starring for Kirtland High School. After redshirting at Kent State in 2019, he was in the line rotation during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He became a starter in 2021 and then started all 12 games for the Flashes last season.

His former teammate, tackle Savion Washington, transferred to CU in January. O’Boyle is excited to bring Bailey into the mix, as well.

“Jack not only brings a bit of the mental part of it, knowing our system, but he’s a tough guy and that’s what we’re lacking,” O’Boyle said. “Jack’s a battler, he’s a tough kid. I’m happy as heck to know he’s coming in because I know what he brings, not only just on the game day, in scrimmages or anything else, but Jack in individual (drills) is one of those guys that is constantly working, man. That guy wants to get better every rep. You need that, especially offensive linemen.”

Given his experience with O’Boyle and Lewis’ up-tempo offense, Bailey is eager to help the Buffs.

“I think it helps a ton,” he said. “I know I’m coming in here and I’m gonna have to work hard and I’m gonna put my head down and go for two years. But, it definitely helps in the fact that I can help anyone else with any calls, any technique, because I’ve been in this system for four years. It’ll help in the fact that I can spread my knowledge from what I’ve learned to some of these newer guys that are newer to this offense.”

Although he’s been a regular starter for O’Boyle and Lewis at Kent State, Bailey said he knows he’s not guaranteed a starting job with the Buffaloes.

“With my mentality, I definitely want to come in and start and be a leader, but I know that everything’s earned,” he said.

CU returns two starting offensive linemen in tackle Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and center Van Wells. In addition, Sanders and his staff have brought in seven linemen who were starters at their colleges last year.

The experienced group of newcomers includes Bailey and Washington, along with Landon Bebee (Missouri State), Tyler Brown (Jackson State), Isaiah Jatta (Snow College), Kareem Harden (Butler Community College) and Jack Wilty (Iowa Central Community College).

“I can’t wait,” Bailey said of the competition at CU. “I think it’ll really elevate the competition. In the end, that makes everybody better. I’m very excited.”

He’s also excited to live outside of Ohio for the first time. He visited CU the week before the spring game and said, “It was really my first time ever seeing the mountains and I felt like a little kid.”

Soon, he’ll get to live near the mountains and rejoin the coaches he grew close with at Kent State.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “I wish I could be there right now.”