Call it bittersweet.
Lamar High School’s Sam Bailey has verbally committed to play football for the Missouri Tigers in the most prestigious conference in the nation.
The Bailey family and the town of Lamar should be ecstatic. And they are.
The Tigers offered Sam Bailey but not his twin brother Ben, who also has played a key role in Lamar’s consecutive Class 2 state championships.
As you might expect, this has created a sensitive situation for the brothers. Sam even declined to announce the news to his teammates on Monday.
“I’d hate to be on the other side of it,” Sam Bailey said. “I know he’s happy for me, but I know it’s got to be tough. I don’t ever want to rub it in his face.
“I feel for him. I wish I could do something to change it.”
The situation isn’t any easier for their mother Noelle Bailey or their uncle Scott Bailey, who is Lamar’s head football coach.
“It is an emotional time,” Noelle Bailey said. “It’s a teeter-totter. It’s not how we expected it to go, but it is a great opportunity for Sam. Ben knows it’s a great opportunity for Sam, and he’s very happy for him.
“They’re not doing any cartwheels or anything, but I don’t know if they would anyways. They’re very humble, and they are still focusing on their senior year. They want to win state for a third time. There are 80 other kids in that brotherhood on the team. It could be any of them. They all work so hard. They all work together.”
Sam and Ben have both been all-state performers. Sam won the state championship in the discus this past spring, and Ben did in 2012. Both are set to enter their senior year at Lamar High.
As you might guess, they are very similar physically.
Sam Bailey is listed at 6-feet, 5 inches and 245 pounds and plays tight end and defensive end for Lamar but is expected to transition to the offensive line for the Tigers in the Southeastern Conference. Ben Bailey is slightly taller and slightly more slender at 6-6 and 230 pounds as an offensive and defensive lineman.
However, the Baileys have been given the impression the slight weight difference has been the separation from a scholarship offer.
“To me, that’s the only difference between us,” Sam Bailey said. “I know he can play.”
Army and several FCS schools, including Missouri State and Southern Illinois, have offered both brothers football scholarships.
It is unclear where Ben will decide to go.
“It’s his choice,” Sam said. “I still hope that something could happen. Whatever happens, we’ll be supporting him."
Nothing is official until national college football signing day on Feb. 5, 2014.
Until then, the Baileys would like to put all of this in the background and focus on their senior season with the Lamar Tigers.
“We want to forget about recruiting and concentrate on winning a conference title and our third straight state championship,” Sam said.