MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- An offense that was already set to lose its starting quarterback, running back, receiver, center and left and right guard will now be without a second receiver next season.
West Virginia star receiver Stedman Bailey told reporters Monday he'll skip his fifth year in 2013 and prepare for the NFL Draft following the Pinstripe Bowl.
In addition to Bailey, quarterback Geno Smith, receiver Tavon Austin, running back Shawne Alston, left guard Josh Jenkins, center Joe Madsen and right guard Jeff Braun are all seniors. Bailey is longtime friends with Smith, who was his quarterback in high school, and has become about as close to Austin.
Smith, Austin and Bailey were part of the 2009 recruiting class. Bailey admitted that played a large role in his decision.
"I kind of felt it was only right to go out with them," Bailey said. "I also think at this point my stock probably can't get any higher and I knew I'd have a new quarterback next year and Tavon won't be there on the field and defenses would probably key on me and try to just cover me and I could have my numbers go down from what I did this year."
Coach Dana Holgorsen, who Sunday night watched former players Michael Crabtree of San Francisco and Wes Welker of New England catch passes in the 49ers-Patriots game, said he "fully" supported Bailey's decision.
"He's a good football player, he's durable, he's smooth, he's got great hand-eye coordination," said Holgorsen, who counts Crabtree and Jacksonville's Justin Blackmon as receivers who left school early. "I'm curious to see how he tests out in the combine."
Despite a sprained ankle that limited him for three full games,
Bailey has caught 106 passes for school-record totals of 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The touchdown total is the highest ever by a player in a Bowl Championship Series conference and four shy of tying the NCAA's all-time mark.
He was first-team all-Big 12 and first-team All-America, as voted by the Football Writers Association of America.
Bailey, who said he's been told he's projected to be a third-round pick in April's draft, also has a month-old son. He said his son's future became a large part of his decision.
"I have a family now and he pretty much comes first for me," Bailey said. "It was hard thinking about it. Obviously, I have another year here and I would like to do all I can to help those guys next year, but this is the best decision for me."
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HOLGORSEN finally confirmed the second change he's made to the coaching staff since the end of the regular season.