Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless: The Most Disrespected WR On Earth
The nation’s leading receiver is have trouble gaining the respect of the establishment.
Four years ago, the following video appeared in my Twitter feed:
Omar Bayless, a freshman WR and 3-star recruit from Mississippi, executing a flatfooted backflip. At six-foot-three, that was pretty damned impressive. Right away, I became a fan of Bayless. The next season, I wrote this about him:
I had jumped the gun a bit. In 2016, Bayless recorded 117 yards and a single touchdown. In fact, for the next three seasons, Bayless would wait his turn, quietly doing his job while Kirk Merrit and Dijon Paschal and Justin McInnis received the spotlight. But then he did this against Georgia Southern:
In 2017, he did it again. The One Handed Catch became a Bayless speciality, reminding us that he was by far the most freakish athlete on the team. He has size. He has speed. He has strength. Most importantly, he has supernatural ability to power through the play after the catch, pushing the defenders aside the Black Friday shoppers at Walmart.
This season, Bayless put up the numbers (and circus catches) to catch the attention of the Biletnikoff Award List and even garner some goodnatured Heisman talk. As of today, Bayless leads the nation in receiving yards and is tied for the lead in touchdowns. As if that were not enough, he’s blocked two punts.
In recent years, I’ve seen a number of great receivers in the Sun Belt: J.D. McKissic, Penny Hart and Jaleel Scott come to mind. Bayless is better than all of them. Layne Hatcher, freshman QB for Arkansas State, merely has to toss the ball in his general direction. Bayless makes the plays.
And yet, the disrespect.
This week, the leading receiver in the NCAA was not a finalist for the Biletnikoff. This isn’t a surprise. Post season awards are for the Privileged Five. But the lack of invitation from the Senior Bowl has not only been puzzling – it’s been downright insulting.
Jim Nagy, Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, doesn’t see much talent in the nation’s leading receiver. He sees more talent in a whopping nine other candidates. The only G5 wide receiver with an invite is Antonio Grandy-Gordon from Liberty. Devin Duvernay from Texas has 8 fewer touchdowns than Bayless. Chase Claypool of Notre Dame has more than 700 fewer yards. And how do you justify Vanderbilt’s Kalija Lipscomb (468 yards, 2 TDs) on this roster? How is the nation’s leading receiver omitted from this team – and bad-mouthed by the bowl’s executive director?
By my count, eight players from the Group of Five have accepted invites to the Senior Bowl (including three from the Sun Belt). That’s about 9% of the roster. Aside from a few FCS invites, the rest belong to the nation’s wealthy programs. It’s clear where the Senior Bowl’s allegiances lie – not with talent.
Omar Bayless is the nation’s best wide receiver. Too bad being the best doesn’t mean much anymore.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.