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There’s never been a player at the University of Georgia quite like Champ Bailey.
Entering UGA in 1996, Bailey made an instant impression on the defensive side of the ball — he intercepted two passes in his freshman year, the third highest total on the team.
But it wasn’t until his sophomore season in 1997 when Bailey truly started to blossom. With the realization that his speed and ball-tracking abilities were beneficial beyond just normal position, the Bulldogs decided to use him in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.
Georgia added wide receiver and return man to Bailey’s resume, testing the waters to see if he could succeed while barely leaving the playing field. The results were even better than expected.
Bailey continued to be one of the strongest lockdown corners in the SEC during his second year, but also became Georgia’s biggest deep threat on offense. The Georgia-native amassed 234 receiving yards on 12 receptions, good for a team-high 19.5 yards per catch for receiver with over 10 receptions.
Then came Bailey’s junior season — where he would go from one of the most versatile players in the SEC to a household name around the country. On defense, Bailey accumulated 52 tackles, seven pass deflections and three interceptions. At receiver, he led the Bulldogs with 744 receiving yards on 47 catches with a team-high five touchdowns. Bailey even became a trusty ballhandler out of the backfield, rushing for 84 yards on 16 carries throughout the year.
Even on special teams, the jack-of-all-trades Bailey led Georgia as the team’s top kick and punt returner.
The Bulldogs finished the 1998 season 9-3, with their top playmaker having a hand in every piece of their success.
The astronomical numbers that Bailey put up on the three sides of the ball led to several individual accolades, including a Consensus All-America nod and the Bronko Nagurski Award for the nation’s top defensive player.
After a prolific collegiate career, Bailey was highly touted as the best defensive player in the 1999 NFL Draft class. That reputation paid off as Bailey was selected with the seventh overall pick by the Washington Redskins, making him the first defensive player off the board.
Bailey is the first member of the 1999 NFL Draft class to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Other prominent members of Bailey’s class include Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Torry Holt, Ricky Williams, Daunte Culpepper, Damien Woody and Dre Bly.
Even while he was tearing up the field at Georgia, it was inevitable that Champ Bailey would one day sit in Canton. The time has now come. Be there when Bailey and the Class of 2019 step into immortality with an Official Ticket Package to 2019 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls. Click below to see what you can get with HOF Experiences:
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