Josh Bailey (74)

Autism doesn't stop college football player from his dreams

Josh Bailey wants to educate, inspire

DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Josh Bailey calls it “the dream.”

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He started with the dream to play college football. But how many kids get the chance – especially a kid with autism?

Soon, though, it will be one dream down, one dream to go.

Still have no clue how I got to this point in my life......

— Josh Bailey (@Joshuabailey22) August 26, 2017

The junior from Michigan is getting his chance to play college football at Mount St. Joseph. The 6-6, 275-pound offensive tackle is raring to go when the Lions open their Division III season Saturday at Capital University in Columbus.

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Comin for ya. #represent

— Josh Bailey (@Joshuabailey22) August 26, 2017

Bailey is outgoing, well-spoken and successful in school. He's on the dean’s list.  But it wasn’t always like that.

“I know it may seem like to most people I don't have autism.  But it was different at a really young age,” Bailey said.

Kids with autism can grow up scared, angry, constantly crying.

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“People with autism don't have the best social skills. I didn't have the best social skills, clearly.  And football helped me build that,” Bailey said.

That began at Lakeland High School in White Lake, Michigan, where he emerged as a dominating blocker.

You know you did good on a play when you pancake someone into the turf, and as you're running off everyone wants to high-five you

— Josh Bailey (@Joshuabailey22) August 27, 2017

How he got to the Mount is a story in itself.

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It’s not so much that Bailey found Mount St. Joe as Mount St. Joe found Bailey. In fact, head coach Tyler Hopperton was the recruiting director at the time. Hopperton was sold as soon as he watched Bailey's highlight tape

 “So after the film - we saw the film first, and obviously, you just met Josh - at 6-6 and 275 pounds, we didn't wince as much,” Hopperton said.

At his size, with his speed, Bailey had a chance to play college football at a bigger school, but he’s on a mission.

“I could either be a punching bag at (Division II) or I had a chance to actually do something here at the Mount,” Bailey said.

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That’s the second part of his dream – not only to play college football,  but to use that for something greater.

“My ultimate dream is to show the world that kids with autism can do extraordinary things and to inspire people with autism to achieve their dreams,” Bailey said.

He points to his head.  “Really, this doesn't hold you back,” he says.

He points to his heart.  “It's this,” Bailey says.

“It's what you do.”