SUMMERVILLE - For a young man who never really liked football as a kid, the game has been very good to Summerville High senior offensive lineman Zack Bailey.
Bailey has grown from a youngster who only enjoyed the video game version of football into the state's top senior offensive line prospect. The 6-5, 315-pound guard was recruited from coast to coast before deciding last week that he would attend the University of South Carolina.
"It really is kind of crazy how it all came about," says Bailey, who moved to Summerville from the Seattle area as an eighth-grader with his family as part of the Boeing expansion into South Carolina.
Other than a fifth-grade experience in Pop Warner football - one he didn't like - Bailey's exposure to the pigskin was minimal. All of that changed when he moved into the football crazy town of Summerville, home of the nation's winningest coach, John McKissick.
"I never knew anything about Coach or about Summerville but it doesn't take long to hear about football around here," said Bailey. "My family liked this area but we had no clue about Summerville football. That wasn't in any of our thinking when we decided to live here."
Former Summerville assistant coach Kenny Farrell, now the school's principal, was one of several coaches who urged Bailey to give football a try.
"I was pretty big back then so the coaches started pushing me to play football. I decided to give it a try and I liked it so I stuck with it," Bailey said.
Little did he know, or expect, that football would end up being his ticket to a college education.
"Never did I even think back then that I might be playing college football someday," he said. "It just happened. Football found me."
Once he figured out he was pretty good at football, Bailey began to take the game more seriously. Former line coach Buddy King, now at Goose Creek, was a big influence on Bailey's development.
"Coach King really helped me grow up and he taught me a lot about football and how to watch film and improve myself," said Bailey. "I owe a lot to all of my coaches here, for pushing me to work hard and make me into a good player."
Now that he has been a big part of the Summerville football program for four years, Bailey now understands just what it means to play for McKissick, who enters his 63rd season with 613 career victories.
"It's amazing what he has done and I admire him a lot," said Bailey. "He's a great person and he's been great to me. He's really into the team and he wants to get the best out of us."
McKissick says Bailey has a "big future" in football, comparing his development to some of the program's great linemen such as former NFL players Kevin Long and Jamar Nesbit.
"He rates right up there with the best that we've had," said McKissick. "He's a smart kid and he learns really well. If he sticks with it, he can go a long ways."
Summerville should be a serious contender for the Division I-AAAA state championship this season. The Green Wave reached the state semifinals last season and returns several key starters, including Bailey.
Bailey is glad to have the recruiting process behind him and is now totally focused on the 2014 season.
"I'm so glad it (recruiting) is out of the way," he said. "It was fun for a while but it started to get old after a while. Now I can focus on my game, my team and finishing up school. We have high hopes this year. We're not there yet, but we can get to that level if we work hard. It sure would be great to win the big one."