MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — They’re teammates, history makers, and now, hall of famers.
WVU football legends Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith were inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame together Saturday, alongside five other all-time Mountaineer greats in various sports.
While Austin and Smith didn’t attend the induction ceremony in person due to commitments with their respective NFL teams, Bailey accepted the honor in front of his parents, wife and son.
In a way, it’s a full-circle moment for the former WVU wide receiver, whose playing career was brought to an abrupt halt after he was shot in 2016.
“While that was such a tragic event for me, I’m extremely blessed to be standing here today,” Bailey said.
He accepted his induction sporting the same Nike Pro Combat jersey he wore for the Backyard Brawl in 2010 — a contest which West Virginia won, as he pointed out. It may have been a bit jarring to see him wearing the No. 10, instead of the No. 3 he wore later in his career, but to him, that jersey is still meaningful.
“No. 10 is the first number I had when I got here. It was me embarking on a new journey,” Bailey said. “What’s really special about this jersey is, in the collar of it, it has the quote of the late, great coach Bill Stewart that says, ‘leave no doubt.’ That’s something, to this day, I live my life by.”
Bailey left no doubt during his collegiate career. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2012 and earned All-America status. He also left his name all over WVU’s single-season and career receiving records, and is notably the program’s all-time leader in touchdown catches.
His teammates also rewrote the record books in other categories. Smith, who played quarterback for the Mountaineers from 2009-12, set more than 30 school records before his WVU career ended.
Though he couldn’t attend the induction ceremony, he accepted the honor via this video:
Austin, who is considered one of the most explosive players in college football history, is WVU’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards, and earned multiple All-America honors. He’s the only player in the history of the sport to score a touchdown on a rush, catch, punt return and kick return in the same season.
All three former teammates enter the hall of fame 10 years after their WVU careers ended, meaning they’ve each been inducted as early as possible.
Other members of the 2022 class include Donna Abbott (women’s basketball), Marie-Louise Asselin (cross country/track), Marsha Beasley (rifle), Marilee Hohmann (rifle) and Kevin Jones (men’s basketball).
This class brings the total number of WVU Sports Hall of Fame inductees to 223.