JaQuan Bailey left his mark at Iowa State, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leader in sacks. It’s safe to say he was a key piece in the Cyclones’ rise over the past few seasons.
Despite all the obstacles that COVID-19 presented this past season, Bailey had 38 tackles, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries. Overall, he finished his Iowa State career with 151 total tackles and 25.5 career sacks.
Though several star players from the 2020 Iowa State team chose to return for another year, Bailey decided to take the next step in his career. Last month, he announced that he was declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
“To my brothers, it’s been a great rise and y’all my boys forever,” Bailey wrote. “After much thought, prayer and conversations with my family, I have decided to retire my cardinal and gold uniform and enter into the NFL Draft. I am excited to step into a new chapter in life and I could not have don’t it without.”
Bailey sat down with The Spun to discuss his NFL Draft decision, what he’s looking to show at his pro day, and what to expect from Iowa State’s program moving forward.
The Spun: You finished your career as Iowa State’s all-time sack leader. What does that mean to you?
JaQuan Bailey: It was a great accomplishment, but I would say it wasn’t necessarily my personal record. I couldn’t have done that without any of my coaches and teammates.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 3, 2021
The Spun: Speaking of the coaching staff, what are your thoughts on Matt Campbell getting an extension?
JB: I know that Iowa State is on the way to bigger and better things. And I’m so happy for Coach Campbell and his family. I know that his family loves the city of Ames, and I’m just happy for him.
The Spun: You mentioned Iowa State being on the way to bigger things. How close are they to being a national title team?
JB: I think they’re very, very close. They have tremendous talent still waiting to get their chance on the roster. Campbell and his staff do one of the best jobs in the whole nation at finding hidden talent. And then I already know all of the dudes returning, like Brock [Purdy], Charlie [Kolar], Greg [Eisworth] and Breece [Hall] are going to do a tremendous job.
— theScore (@theScore) January 3, 2021
The Spun: How’s the preparation been for the NFL Draft?
JB: My whole focus has been taking it one day at a time. That’s one of the most important traits I learned from Coach Campbell. I simply have to control what I can control, which is going out and having fun each and every day with my training workouts. I just have to focus on my pro day.
The Spun: What’s the main thing you want to prove during your pro day?
JB: Yes, sir. I want to show I can drop with consistent hips and being fluid in my motions when I’m bending and running.
The Spun: Have you had any virtual meetings with teams yet?
JB: It’s kinda weird because I have and I haven’t. I’ve been taking all these personality tests and quizzes about my background, like what type of upbringing did I have or what kinda dude am I in the locker room.
The Spun: Who was the best quarterback you faced in the Big 12?
JB: During my entire career at Iowa State, it was that man who lives in Arizona [Kyler Murray]. He was just different. From this season, I’d say the most talented quarterback we faced was Sam Ehlinger.
JaQuan Bailey with his 49th career start, tying the school record.
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) January 2, 2021
The Spun: What’s your best move as a pass-rusher?
JB: Just a simple long arm because you can do nine different moves from it. You can do many counters from a long arm and you can set up guys in different ways from that move.
The Spun: Where you surprised to see Brock Purdy stay? Also, what do you think Iowa State fans should expect from him?
JB: I wasn’t necessarily surprised because of the whole vibe we got when we were playing in his hometown. After the Big 12 championship and seeing all of the guys’ tears, our mentality as a team was to run it back. I was even thinking about coming back just to get a final run at the Big 12. I already know Brock is somewhere right now watching film or throwing to his guys, so watch out.
The Spun: So you mentioned possibly coming back for another year. Has it hit you that you’re two months away from being on an NFL team?
JB: When I took my first NFL assessment and then when I sat back thinking about how my body feels from all this training, it finally hit me like four weeks ago. Right after we got done with our bowl game, I drove home to Jacksonville to see my mom for the last time before I started training. It’s been kinda crazy, but it has been fun.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in JaQuan Bailey?
JB: It’s just simple. You’re getting a team-first guy who is willing to do anything in order for the team to be successful. I’m going to work hard and show up each day as the same guy. I’m going to give you my best, whether that’s rushing the passer, playing the run or dropping back into coverage.
— J₳QɄ₳₦ ฿₳łⱠɆɎ #3 (@xix904) January 3, 2021
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