Petal coach Allen Glenn is very open about the fact that he didn’t know who Deljay Bailey was.
Bailey, a transfer from Biloxi, is rated a three-star quarterback by 247sports.com and holds offers from Southern Miss, South Alabama and Akron, and is a welcome sight for an offense that averaged 16.4 points last year.
“He kind of showed up on our doormat,” Glenn said. “It was kind of a weird deal. I honestly didn’t know Deljay Bailey. I’m a north Mississippi guy, and coming to Petal last year, I didn’t know much about South Mississippi. Then you have a kid on the coast that I surely don’t know anything about. I had never heard of Deljay Bailey. “
It’s understandable given that Glenn is from northern Mississippi and last year was his first season at Petal, but as soon as he saw Bailey play, he understood how great of a player he was.
“He can spin it,” Glenn said. “The ball comes out of his hands the way it’s supposed to. We have been working with him since January with our wideouts to get the cohesiveness and feel for each other. We feel like he is going to help us in a lot of different areas.
“We’ll call some option game with him. He’s a capable runner. There will be times we’ll give him the option to run the football. He’ll have to help us with his arm and legs for us to be successful.”
Bailey moved to Petal to be close with his dad, C.J. Bailey, who had a memorable football career at Southern Miss.
“My dad played at Southern Miss, and he wanted to move back,” Bailey said. “He wanted to go to his old stomping grounds. We landed here, and I moved in with him.
“My first week at Petal was a big shock because the weight room is very different than what I was used to. That was a big difference coming in, and it has worked out well, and I have caught on fast. It’s been fun.”
In his junior season last year, Bailey threw for 1,721 yards and 11 touchdowns while being intercepted seven times. However, Bailey expects to flourish more in Petal’s spread compared to Biloxi, which predominantly plays under center.
“At Biloxi, I started off in a lot of Wing-T, but we still did a lot of play-action pass,” Bailey said. “Going into that spread, I feel like that’s more collegiate and what colleges want to see with throwing the ball and spinning it around the field.”
Despite Bailey’s arrival in January, Petal already had named a starting quarterback from last season with Cayden Burger, but the remedy for that is moving Burger to wide receiver for the upcoming season. While that might cause an issue within most locker rooms, Burger and Bailey have embraced their dynamic.
“I knew he was good when he was coming in, and I knew it was going to be competition,” Burger said. “The best man wins it. Other than that, I knew it was going to be a fun experience to compete against a better person and somebody who could really step up.
“Coming in, people would ask me if I’m going to like this guy? And I said I’m sure we’ll be friends, but when he got here, we started hanging out, and you couldn’t have a better friendship. The first week he got here, we started working together, and it was a connection from then on.”
As a sophomore quarterback, Burger put up respectable numbers as he threw for 1,257 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, last year Burger played some wide receiver during his freshman season.
“There will be a package or two for Cayden because he is pretty dynamic with his feet and throws it well, too,” Glenn said. “We feel like going into the year is for Deljay to be at quarterback and for Cayden to plug in at wideout. He has shown to be very capable. He’s a fast twitchy kid and catches it well.”
Yet Bailey also feels that the relationship between the duo is not only strong but will be a key piece in the upcoming season.
“Cayden is very explosive,” Bailey said. “We have been working a lot. He’s a very fast receiver. He’s going to put a move on you and get by you.
“(Our relationship) has been pretty good. We work outside of practice. We hang out sometimes as well. Our connection is pretty great, and we are dynamic. Our dynamic is very explosive if you ask me.”