Many factors have played a part in the rejuvenated spirit within the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions football program. New Wide Receivers coach Robert Bailey Jr. has proved to one of those factors.
Coach Bailey, who is 27 years old, played WR four years at Grambling State University from 2010-2013. He was hired as a graduate assistant wide receiver coach at Grambling from 2014-2015, and in 2016 he was hired as their tight ends coach. In his one season as the tight ends coach, Grambling won the SWAC championship and the National Championship.
UAPB moved on from their former WR Coach Mike Kendricks, and the job was offered to Bailey. According to UAPB Head Coach Monte Coleman, he’s highly pleased with the hire and what Bailey brings to the program.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Coleman said. “He’s knowledgeable from playing and coaching the game. He comes from a good program under Coach Eric Dooley out at Grambling. Our guys have related to him from the start. He actually shows them how it’s done as well as tells them. He comes to practice with his cleats on and he’s running routes with the guys and making sure they’re learning. I’m extremely happy to have him as our receiving coach, and he’s definitely an asset that we’ll benefit from.”
Coming from Grambling where they won the SWAC championship last season, Bailey knows how it feels to be on top. At the same time, Bailey knows how it feels to be down as he was apart of the Grambling program when things weren’t so bright.
“I was a part of Grambling as a winning program and a losing program, therefore I know how it feels to be down and up,” Bailey said. “When I come into the field house each day I see the guys and I can put my self in their shoes. I can relate to them and I know they’re tired of being at the bottom of the barrel. We’re fixing the problem, and it’s good when you know what the problem is because you can find your solution. We’re focusing on winning the day. We want to dominate the day, then you’ll dominate the week, and when you dominate the week you’ll dominate the month. That’s what we wer’e focused on right now.”
Speaking with Bailey, his fieriness can’t go unnoticed. The energy he brings is rubbing off on the players, and that’s exactly how he wants it to be.
“One thing about me is I’m big on motivation and enthusiasm,” Bailey said. “I’m dedicated to this and it’s my passion. Passion should go into everything that we do. You’re able to have fun with it when you’re working hard and playing hard. I’m a high energy coach, I’m highly enthused, and I’m big on discipline”
Former UAPB Offensive Coordinator Eric Dooley, served as Bailey’s mentor at GSU. Dooley is now the Offensive Coordinator/WR Coach at Grambling, and Bailey credited him for some of his own coaching tactics.
“I learned from Coach Eric Dooley,” Bailey said. “He was the OC here in PB in 2011-13. He was the same way, he coached with his cleats. I fed off of his energy and I want my guys to do the same. If I’m able to go out and show these guys it makes it a lot easier. I don’t have a problem at all in doing it because that’s what I’m here for. Practice helps me stay focused and locked in, it keeps me engaged.”
Bailey was with the Golden Lions throughout this year’s spring practices, and he likes what the group as a whole has shown. When questioned about depth at the position, he explained how he’s going about dealing with that.
“One thing about the group is they’re willing to learn,” Bailey said. “They ask questions, and they want to know how to be a successful receiver. I believe they’re very special because they’re eager and humble. Right now they’re tired of losing, but they can feel themselves getting better. They’re gaining confidence in all areas, and overall it’s a tough group. At wide-out I don’t look at it as it’s this guy and then it’s that guy. We have some good experienced guys, and we have some young guys who will step in and help as well.”
As far as a number one receiver at this point, Paris Mack is the leading candidate. Mack had a productive spring and he continues to show improvement. However, the Golden Lions are expecting to get a transfer wide receiver from the University of Arkansas, Cameron Colbert.
“I can see Paris Mack as the number one guy,” Bailey said. He’s the most consistent, but they’re all working good. Patrick Rowland and John Hawkins have impressed, but based off of the spring, Mack will be the top guy, and we plan on picking up from there. Also we have a transfer that’s coming in. Cameron Colbert transferred from Arkansas and he will be a good piece. He runs good routes,and we’re waiting to see how he looks at camp.”
The Golden Lions open the 2017 season with a home game against Morehouse College, and Bailey is already pumped up.
“September 2nd,” Bailey said. “That’s what we’re striving towards, September 2nd. We need all UAPB Golden Lions fans in attendance. Support is important, and I encourage everyone to come out and see the show!”