Fifth-year linebacker Markus Bailey has been ready for the season to start ever since Purdue lost to Auburn University last year in the Music City Bowl. The game left a bitter taste in his mouth and the mouths of everyone on the team.
Bailey is a Columbus, Ohio, native and grew up an Ohio State University fan. Ironically, one of the biggest games of Bailey’s career took place against then-No. 2 Ohio State last season. Purdue came into the game as a major underdog against the Buckeyes but shocked football fans across the country with a 49-20 victory.
Bailey had a late interception that he returned for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the win. He also racked up eight tackles, a team-high that game.
This year, his teammates elected him captain for the second year in a row. He has a commanding presence that warrants respect from the team.
“Its nice to see the young guys step up,” Bailey said. “We just try to get them to their peak.”
Bailey also has years of experience which has made him a mentor and leader in and out of the locker room. Since 2016, Bailey has started in 39 games and even played in three as a freshman before injuring his knee.
Bailey is also highly intelligent. He has been named Academic All-Big Ten in 2016, 2017 and 2018. His intellect has helped him learn over the past four seasons, correcting mistakes and perfecting his craft. He already has a degree from Purdue, but he didn’t feel quite finished in West Lafayette.
“I already knew they were going to tell me to come back to school because everybody I talked to said I wasn’t projected in the first or second round,” Bailey told the Journal and Courier early this year. “If I decided to leave, it wasn’t going to be based on that feedback.”
Bailey submitted his name into the National Football League Draft last year, but never hired an agent and ultimately decided to return for his last year of eligibility. His decision to return helped bring back experience, talent and hard work for the team, and it helped him personally. Bailey has a chance to raise his draft stock this season and earn a spot on an NFL team in the future.
The future isn’t on Bailey’s mind right now, however, as he is preparing for the next game against Vanderbilt, his final home opener as a Boilermaker.
Bailey says he enjoys the “intensity” of the game, something Jeff Brohm didn’t notice from the team in the fourth quarter against Nevada.
“You can blame it on a lot of things. We didn’t function the way we wanted to,” Brohm said. “We need to get it fixed.”
Bailey’s leadership and never-satisfied attitude will quickly get the team behind him and the other captains, fixing the mistakes from Nevada for when the Boilers take on Vanderbilt at noon Saturday.