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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 53 not (his best position). Now we're able to move him back inside so he'll probably be more active and be around the ball more because he's in the middle." It'll come with a wealth of responsibilities, not just be- cause of the position — he'll call the defense, rather than put the burden on sophomore middle Derrick Barnes — but because Bailey's now a veteran, and one of the few on Purdue's defense. Gone are leaders like Bentley, one of the most vocal players in Purdue's recent history, and Da'Wan Hunte and Danny Ezechukwu, whose maturity commanded attention from teammates when they spoke up. Bailey admits he wasn't really comfortable with speaking in the leadership role in the spring, but quickly realized either he'd speak or nobody would, and the latter wasn't a good option. "I think the guys respect me," he said. "I feel like I'm saying good things and things that will help them on the field. They trust me because of the production I've shown thus far. I like the fact that I'm a leader this year; I have different leadership style than someone like Ja'Whaun or someone like Danny E. "I am vocal when I need to be but you can't force it. When you force it, it comes off where people aren't go- ing to (accept) it." Bailey's tactic has been to catch players one-on-one, grabbing them off to the side to instruct more on what he, and the defense, needs. It's worked with Barnes, an underclassman linebacker who steps into a huge role as Purdue's middle this season. Bailey's played the position before, getting in as a middle a couple years ago when Bentley was banged up and missed a few games. And he's helped get Barnes into position, encouraging him at times and critiquing him at others. "He's a great role model for me," Barnes said. "If he stays out there and gets extra work in, I'll stay out there with him. He's a player that I want to make myself in to. He's dedicated to the game and is always working on his craft. That's something I look up to. "He led with his action last year but now he actually speaks, and I think that's a big step for Markus, and it'll help us out a lot." That ultimately is Bailey's goal, wanting to help the Boilermaker defense stay at the level it was a year ago, despite seeing seven starters, and several other key pieces, depart. He'll continue to push, but he's been that way for years. As a youth, Bailey was the kid in PE who went at 110 mph when the rest were going about half that. After kickball, he'd be drenched in sweat, while most of his classmates were goofing off, he said. He'd want to beat his younger brother at video games so badly that when he lost, he'd be flabbergasted. He'd quit, head to his room and probably yell at someone or something. When he was an undersized junior linebacker at Hil- liard Davidson in Columbus, he'd push himself hard to make up for any physical limitations. And colleges noticed, as he earned offers from Purdue, Duke, North- western and Pitt, and others, but not from hometown Ohio State. The Buckeyes thought he was too small and too slow, with a clocked 40 time back then only in the 4.8s. He's still trying to prove something. "I want to prove myself to any doubters out there," Bailey said. "Someone who has never seen me play be- fore might be watching me and not know anything that I'm about. I have to make sure I'm on my game all the time. I want to prove that I'm the best. It kills me when I make mistakes. That's something I need to get better at. I've been a perfectionist and I've had the drive to want to be the best at everything I'm doing." Literally everything including school. Bailey was Academic All-Big Ten while majoring in movement and sport sciences last year. He wants to play well by eliminating those neg- ative plays that have haunted him over the years. But he also doesn't want to appear obsessive, telling an interviewer, basically, not to paint him as a crazy person. Bailey wanted to make sure a recent photo was as perfect as possible, communicating with the photogra- pher to get into the right position. "Not here," Bailey said, leaning forward. "Not here," leaning back. "But here," he said, shaking out his shoul- ders and settling into place. The need for everything to be right is fuel. "He's very conscientious," Holt said. "He's a one-in-a- million type kid where he's a fantastic student, he has a fantastic work ethic, he's a fantastic football player and he's just a great kid. You don't get those kids much." j

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