Bayly selected for All-American Bowl
Porter Ridge High senior Luke Bayly has added a crown jewel to his lengthy list of accomplishments.
Bayly, a 6-3, 215-pound receiver, has been selected to play in the Blue-Grey All American Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2014.
Rosters were selected from regional combines that tested athletes in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, bench press and shuttle run, in addition to position drills and 7-on-7.
Bayly was a bit of a workout wonder. He excelled at the Greensboro combine, earning him an offer to the Boston Super Combine — where he tested first or second in every category among a pool of "15 to 20" receivers.
Bayly ran his best 40 in 4.56 seconds, benched 185 pounds 15 times and had an eye-popping 40-inch leap from a stand-still jump.
He's in his third year as a starting defensive end for the Pirates, but also emerged as the team's top receiver in 2012, catching 42 passes for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games. This season he has 19 receptions for 350 yards and two TDs through four games.
Bayly has played in two college stadiums as Pirate. Last year's 4A state title game was at Wake Forest and the 2011 state title was decided at UNC Chapel Hill. He will add the Tampa Bay Bucs' Raymond James Stadium to his resume this winter.
"I'm excited about it," Bayly said. "Playing in an NFL stadium will be a dream come true for me."
Bayly will play for the Grey team, which represents the South.
Players from the winning team will receive what Bayly describes as a "Super Bowl-sized" ring.
While Bayly looks forward to the All-Star event, he has something more pressing on his mind.
The Pirates host tradition-rich Independence High tonight.
The Patriots won seven straight 4A state championships from 2000-06, and had a 109-game winning streak during that stretch.
"They're a really good, disciplined, athletic football team," Bayly said. "We'll have to play very sound football to beat them."
Bayly missed a Week 5 loss to archrival Sun Valley with an ankle injury, but practiced without limitation on Wednesday and expects to start both ways tonight.
He described the loss to Sun Valley as "a wakeup call."
"We're not who we thought we were," Bayly said. "People are coming to get us like 'This ain't your town anymore.' Right now it isn't and we need to prove it again."
A win over Independence would be a great start.
Bayly suggests the Pirates' 3-2 record — sluggish by their standards — is a combination of the coaching change, a tougher schedule and "a lot of new faces on the field."
"The intensity has definitely been lacking," Bayly said. "We haven't had the same fire or played with the same heart as we have in the past.
"The coaching change has been different. It was hard to let go of Coach (Blair) Hardin. There's no way the new coaching staff could come in being as hard on us and yelling at us like Coach Hardin did. They would have lost respect right off the bat."
Bayly believes the Pirates are capable of playing at a higher level, and feels the bye week came along at just the right time.
"We've had a lot more intensity in practice," Bayly said. "It really hit me in Wednesday's practice. I remember thinking 'It's starting to get real out here.' These last two weeks have been really good for us. We're fired up and ready to put our foot on the gas pedal."