WVU quartet welcoming 'home' bowl game
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MIAMI — West Virginia sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey used to walk past Sun Life Stadium each day while he was growing up.
As a star high school football player at Miramar High School in Miami, Bailey had always dreamed of playing there.
"For me to be able to play on this field on this stage, it's an amazing feeling," Bailey said.
The Mountaineers have four players from Miramar High School: Bailey, wide receiver Ivan McCartney, quarterback Geno Smith and nose tackle Josh Taylor. The school is about four miles from Sun Life Field in Miami.
Bailey, McCartney and Smith are three of the Mountaineers' best offensive options. The trio has combined to score 40 touchdowns and rack up 5,688 yards this season.
"They were always special kids when they were with me. I knew they were going to do something special,"Miramar High School football coach Damon Cogdell said. "You could always see the athleticism with those kids, and not only that but they worked hard and lived a great lifestyle."
Cogdell is a former WVU linebacker who lettered in 1997-98 for the Mountaineers. He finished his career with 105 tackles.
"A lot of college coaches tease me that they're never going to get a Miramar kid, because they're going to West Virginia," Cogdell said. "But, if that particular kid fits a particular role, that's where he should go."
Bailey said Cogdell is giving high school players an opportunity to continue their careers at the highest level and earn a college degree.
"He's been building that program up. A lot of kids have seen what Cogdell has been doing and that he has success with players going to college," Bailey said. "I know a lot of kids want to be a part of something like that. It's only getting better."
The pipeline isn't closing yet, either. Former Morgan State linebacker and Miramar state champion Dominick Bryan transferred to WVU last year.
In addition, Cogdell said former Miramar receiver and Eastern Michigan receiver Terrance Gourdine will enroll at WVU later this month.
"It means a lot to the community and to the program as a whole that these former players are succeeding," Cogdell said.
Cogdell was at WVU's practice Sunday to watch his former players prepare for Wednesday's Orange Bowl vs. Clemson.
The four former Miramar stars will have an opportunity to shine Wednesday in front of a national TV audience — and local fans.
"This is more for my family members and the guys that can't come up and see me play," Smith said. "Now, we have a chance to go home. It's going to be pretty special."
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