Success with high school QBs

Could Bailey be next former signal-caller to excel at new position for UF?

Updated: February 18, 2013, 8:30 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp likes a lot of things about receiver signee Alvin Bailey.

He likes Bailey's versatility as a slot receiver, running back and punt returner -- sort of a Chris Rainey clone, but with better size (6-foot, 170 pounds).

He also likes Bailey's quickness (which negates the somewhat slow 4.7-second 40 time he posted at the Under Armour combine as a junior), his hands, and the way he's able to adjust to the ball and make tough catches.

But Muschamp also likes the fact that Bailey didn't always play receiver at Seffner (Fla.) Armwood. Bailey spent a lot of time at quarterback, including most of his junior season, and in Muschamp's eyes that makes him more valuable as a football player.

"I really like to coach guys that played quarterback, whether you play defensive back or receiver, because when you play quarterback you've got to command the huddle, you've got to be able to communicate with your teammates, and you have some sort of leadership abilities," Muschamp said. "So I always like [former quarterbacks]."

Muschamp mentioned New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster, whom he coached at LSU, as an example. Webster was a three-year starter at quarterback at Vacherie (La.) St. James and went on to become an All-American at LSU before the Giants took him in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft.

There's obviously no guarantee that things will work out like that for the Gators and Bailey, but Muschamp's reasoning behind his affinity for former quarterbacks is sound.

"A lot of times in high school you put your best athlete at quarterback because they touch the ball every snap, so they've got an opportunity to make something good happen for your team," Muschamp said. "Alvin's a guy that's got a lot of playmaking ability."

Bailey threw for 875 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 872 yards and six touchdowns as a quarterback, and caught 22 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns as a junior. As a senior, he caught 40 passes for 658 yards. He played much less quarterback than he did the year before.

If Bailey does develop into a big-time playmaker for the Gators, he'll be another in a long line of high school quarterbacks who went on to have great college careers at other positions. Here are five of the more notable Gators through the past 25 years who were former quarterbacks.

DE Alex Brown

Brown played linebacker and quarterback for White Springs (Fla.) Hamilton County, where he threw for 863 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 767 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also recorded 117 tackles, four fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals as a senior. Brown, who redshirted in 1997, went on to be named an All-American at Florida. He holds the school record with 33 career sacks, which includes a school single-season record 13 in 1999. He had five sacks against Tennessee that season.

WR Andre Caldwell

Caldwell caught 52 passes for 1,162 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior at Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson but was moved to quarterback for his senior season. He passed and rushed for a combined 2,200 yards and 38 touchdowns to lead Jefferson to the Class 4A state title game. Caldwell arrived in Gainesville in 2003 and went on to become UF's all-time leading receiver (185 catches) and is third on the school's receiving yardage list (2,349 yards).

[+] EnlargeJoe Haden
Kim Klement/US PresswireJoe Haden made a quick transition from successful high school quarterback to starting cornerback for the Florida Gators as a true freshman.
CB Joe Haden

Haden set a Maryland public school record with 7,371 career passing yards and tied the career record with 80 touchdowns. He threw for 2,783 yards and 38 touchdowns and rushed for 899 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior at Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly. He was moved to cornerback when he arrived at UF in 2007 and he became the first true freshman cornerback in school history to start ther season opener. Haden went on to earn Freshman All-American honors and was also a first-team All-American in 2009. He left school after his junior season and was taken with the No. 7 overall selection by the Cleveland Browns in the 2010 NFL draft.

P Chas Henry

Henry was a three-year starter at quarterback at Dallas (Ga.) East Paulding and led his team to the quarterfinals of the Georgia state playoffs as a senior by throwing for more than 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. He went on to become one of the greatest punters in UF history. His 43.0 career average is second to Ray Criswell (44.4), and he won the Ray Guy Award and was a consensus first-team All-American in 2010.

WR O.J. Small

Small was the Florida Times-Union's All-City quarterback in 1999 after throwing for more than 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns at Jacksonville (Fla.) Forrest, and he threw for more than 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in his high school career. He redshirted in 2000, then went on to record 117 career catches for 1,358 yards and seven touchdowns, including an SEC-high 63 catches for 719 yards and four touchdowns in 2004. Small finished his career with a catch in 30 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in school history.

Mike DiRocco | email

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