MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Geno Smith is West Virginia's Heisman Trophy candidate. He's the quarterback who was invited over the summer to camps reserved for the elite players at his position.
He was named the Big 12 Conference's preseason offensive player of the year even though he's never played a snap in the league.
Tavon Austin also parlayed the Orange Bowl into headlines and spots on all the preseason watch lists available for a receiver.
He joined Smith on the preseason all-Big 12 team, popped up in conversations about sneaky Heisman candidates and earned a reputation strong enough to make all-conference and all-America teams as a punt returner, even though Austin will admit he wasn't too good at it in 2011.
Freshman Jordan Thompson locked down a starting spot as an inside receiver and at Austin's former position, which had people in some circles predicting Thompson to be one of the country's most productive freshmen on offense.
Even at WVU, senior J.D. Woods was perhaps the most compelling story of preseason camp because of his rise from academic question mark on the scout team to starting receiver.
Absent from all that and from seemingly every conversation about No. 11 WVU before Saturday's season opener against Marshall is the player who set a school record for receiving yards and delivered WVU to the Orange Bowl with his acrobatic fourth quarter, final drive catch against South Florida in the regular-season finale.
Has college football gone crazy and forgotten Stedman Bailey?
"I hope so," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "I wouldn't mind that."
Certainly when the Mountaineers play host to Marshall at noon and on FX at Mountaineer Field, Bailey will line up on the outside and have the full attention of the Thundering Herd defense.
"He's not a secret weapon," Smith said. "I know defensive coordinators around the country, especially ones we'll be facing, know all about him. Put on the film and you see him making plays game after game. Put him in a one-on-one situation and it's pretty much a given he's going to do something."
So WVU won't be springing Bailey on anyone, not after 72 receptions, 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
Yet he's still unheralded, at least compared to his teammates. Despite the success last season, when Bailey finished No. 7 nationally in receiving touchdowns, No. 13 in receiving yards per game and No. 14 in yards per catch, he was left off the preseason all-Big 12 team.
He was named to the Biletnikoff Award's preseason watch list, meaning he was considered one of the country's 65 best receivers, but Bailey was omitted from the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award watch list. Both name candidates for the national player of the year, but Bailey wasn't considered to be in the top 64 for the Maxwell or the top 50 for the Walter Camp.