SI Vault
 
Veteran's Day
Albert Chen
February 13, 2006
After a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq, a linebacker gets a Division-I football scholarship
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 13, 2006

Veteran's Day

After a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq, a linebacker gets a Division-I football scholarship

View CoverRead All Articles

IN 2004 junior college recruit Timmy Bailey was weighing scholarship offers from programs such as Texas A&M and Mississippi State. But the the 6'3", 240-pound linebacker from Mississippi Delta Community College wound up making an unexpected detour--to Iraq.

When he was 17 Bailey, an unheralded player at Riverside High in Avon, Miss., enrolled in the National Guard to help fund his education if football didn't work out. After a year of basic training he went to Mississippi Delta in the spring of 2003, and it quickly became clear football was working out: He led the team in tackles as a freshman, and D-I coaches began calling. Then in June 2004, as he was deciding where to transfer the following year, Bailey got his orders. "I was shocked," he says. "I didn't think that they'd send the National Guard. I was ready to have a great season, so that news hurt."

After a year in Iraq--he drove five-ton supply trucks while stationed 30 miles south of Baghdad--the 21-year-old private returned home to Glen Allan, Miss., in December. Last week Bailey, who stayed in shape overseas by hitting the weight room three days a week, signed a letter of intent with Mississippi State. ( Alabama and Mississippi also made offers.) "I saw a lot of things over there I didn't want to see," says Bailey. "After the past year, football's going to be a breeze."

1