AMES — Not many moments in a 31-14 loss to Louisiana on Sept. 12 gave Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell much joy.
But one play early in the season-opening game was special.
“It was a third-down play early in the game and Josh (Bailey) flushes the quarterback to the left and then JaQuan (Bailey) runs him out of bounds,” Campbell said. “Those two were making critical plays in critical moments.”
The twin defensive linemen from Jacksonville, Fla., will be relied upon to keep making plays in critical moments as Iowa State (0-1) travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to play TCU (0-0) in a Big 12 game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday (FS1).
“I sent them a snapshot after the game of that play,” Campbell said. “The pride that I take in both of them is themselves really pushing each other to get to this point.
“The thing for me is, can you imagine how proud their mother is watching that game and seeing how hard both of her sons have worked to get their degrees here at Iowa State, to persevere through tough and trying times and to now be on the field together? I don’t know that there would be a prouder parent moment than what JaQuan and Josh’s mom went through two Saturdays ago.”
JaQuan has been a starter at Iowa State from the moment he stepped on campus but missed most of last season with a leg injury. Josh, on the other hand, hadn’t seen any meaningful playing time until the Louisiana game.
The only reason they ever saw the field together was because JaQuan’s leg injury forced him to take a redshirt year and because Josh decided to stick it out and keep improving at Iowa State even though he was stuck behind Ray Lima and Jamhal Johnson for three years.
“I think toughness is defined by how you respond to adversity, right?” Campbell said. “Perseverance is very definitive of really both of these two young men. Josh is a young man that — you want to talk toughness? He had not played a lot of meaningful snaps until the fifth year of his senior year. To stay the course, to keep getting better, to stay in the weight room, to keep coming to work every day, to keep showing up, that’s really hard to do (in our) society of instant gratification.
“And here’s a young man, a fifth-year senior, where there has not been a lot of gratification for the work that he’s put into his craft and yet he kept pounding away, hoping at some point, that gratification would occur.”
Against Louisiana that gratification came. Josh had four tackles and two tackles for loss to go along with the aforementioned quarterback pressure. JaQuan had five tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.
Campbell said he thought it was the best, most complete game of JaQuan’s career and it was easily the best Josh had played.
The two can credit each other for getting to this point. In 2018, Josh was battling an injury and JaQuan helped him through rehab and kept his football skills sharp.
“When Josh got hurt, watching JaQuan help him was special,” Campbell said. “There were a lot of times when I’d come in on Sunday mornings in the offseason and I’d bring my daughters into the indoor facility to hit softballs or bring my sons in to play football. And I’d walk in and here’s JaQuan tutoring and helping Josh through the process of rehabilitation on the football field. Whether he was working on his hands and hand placement for pass-rush moves or whatever else he was working on with him.
“Those Sunday mornings, it’s some great family time for me, but then you have these two brothers in there and you can’t help but think, ‘This is pretty special.’”
Last season, when JaQuan was hurt, Josh reciprocated that same love back.
“I was really proud because the greatest growth I’ve seen in Josh was when his brother got hurt,” Campbell said. “No. 1, Josh had to stand on his own two feet in the football world and he really responded outstandingly to that. Then No. 2, he gave that same love, care, passion and compassion back to his brother. That was really big because it helped JaQuan through it. I really believe both young men have great hearts.
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“They’ve come really, really far in a short amount of time. These experiences have given them a chance to leave here and be that complete person. I’m really excited about that. They’re two young men that have grown immensely and as a coach you appreciate that as much or more than the wins and losses.”