The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

January 4, 2012

Bailey finds sometimes home is better than you remember

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — You can come from a place, call it home, and then realize you hardly knew the place at all.

Sometimes you have to leave and come back to see a place for what it fully has to offer.

Just ask Stedman Bailey.

The West Virginia redshirt sophomore wide receiver grew up in Miami and knew his surroundings.

He knew the area around Sun Life Stadium, where you could actually watch the game on the Jumbotron outside the stadium if you positioned yourself just right.

That was his world.

“I grew up not five minutes from (Sun Life Stadium),” Bailey said.

When you are growing up, the world really is no bigger than your little part of the world.

But there was a lot right outside his doorstep that Bailey had never seen. And, at the time, probably didn’t care about anyway.

There was a lifestyle he had never seen.

“I’m not necessarily from the beach area,” Bailey said.

And there is no need to apologize for it, either.

But when the Mountaineers earned their Orange Bowl bid (tonight, 8:30 p.m., ESPN) against Clemson at Sun Life Stadium, his old stomping grounds, Bailey and the Mountaineers returned to his hometown and they were treated to the good life around South Florida.

He took it all in, and loved it.

“Everything that we got a chance to do, from just sitting around the hotel and walking around,” Bailey said of the active week the Orange Bowl committee provides the two participating teams.

A lot of the time he spent with teammates, like fellow Miami native Geno Smith, in the lobby of the world-famous Fontainebleau Hotel. They spotted stars like Rihanna, Paris Hilton and various rappers.

Here is a little history lesson about the Fontainebleau: In the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger,” the Fontainebleau is the hotel where character Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) was killed and sprayed gold by villain Oddjob (Harold Sakata).

And there were the activities.

“Jet-skiing,” Bailey said of his favorite. “That was my first time jet-skiing and I had a blast. Hopefully I’ll get to go again some time soon.”

And the eating.

“We went to a restaurant (Sunday) called Fogo de Chao (an authentic Brazilian Steakhouse) and that was something different for me,” Bailey said. “Just being back at home in Miami has been a great feeling. I’m happy all my teammates have been enjoying themselves, too. It’s been an overall good thing for me.”

All this left an impression on Bailey, who, all season long, has left his own impression, by catching 67 passes for a school-record 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns. A lot of that came on highlight reel-worthy catches.

“Just waking up every morning, looking at boats and all these expensive cars, it kind of motivates me to want to live that life, too,” Bailey said. “I’m glad I got a chance to be down there and be around superstars, and stuff like that. It pretty much motivates me to want to be like those people.”

Sometimes home is better than you remember.

And tonight, Bailey has his first chance to become famous. In his own backyard.

— E-mail: demorrison@

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