Syracuse Football: Hark, The Antwon Bailey Era Begins

It might only last for one season, but the Antwon Bailey Era has been a long time coming. Not too shabby considering it was never supposed to happen to begin with.

Bailey came to Syracuse in the same recruiting class as Averin Collier. The 10th best RB in the nation that year, Collier was destined to be The Next Great Syracuse RB once Curtis Brinkley and Delone Carter had moved on.

And yet, in what is supposed to be Collier's senior season, he's not here. But Antwon Bailey is. And we should have suspected all those years ago when Bailey came out of nowhere to help the Orange stun Notre Dame that he was destined to be The Next Great Syracuse RB one day.

Brinkley is gone. Carter has graduated. Collier left school. And now, it's Antwon Bailey's show.

"Waiting my turn was a tough process. I'm not going to lie, especially at the beginning,'' said Bailey, 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year in the Washington, D.C. metro area and a three-time MVP at St. John's College High School.

"Coming out of high school and being the man - any running back coming into the position I was in it would be hard, especially knowing that you can play at this level and play at a high level.''

While Prince-Tyson Gulley, Steve Rene and Jerome Smith will challenge for playing time, Bailey will get the bulk of the carries. The key for Antwon will be how he balances power with speed. He made for a nice change-of-pace out of the backfield last year. This time defense will be keyed in on him. All signs point to him being up to the challenge.

"I feel strongly about this year,'' Gulley said. "I learned speed last year. It (the game) has kind of slowed down a little bit for me. Now, I've got to make the right adjustments to be a better player.''

Bailey ready to be No. 1 at SU...SI.com

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