Xavier Bausley excited to add to in-state talent for Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — There was a time when Xavier Bausley dreamt about being a Mountaineer.

Growing up in Charleston, the West Virginia native watched WVU and his favorite players Pat White, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and dreamed about one day wearing the Old Gold and Blue himself.

When Bausley started at South Charleston High School, however, he started to think more realistically about his football career.

“Once I got to high school, you have to start looking at it as a business, so you can’t say ‘dream school’, really,” Bausley said. “But as a kid, I had five Pat White jerseys, two Tavon Austin jerseys. I was a West Virginia fan growing up.”

What was once just a dream has become a reality for Bausley, who has transferred to WVU this offseason after two years at Jacksonville State.

“It’s awesome,” Bausley said during the Country Roads Trust youth football camp on Tuesday. “I had like eight family members at the spring game. The only problem is the spring games here are a lot more packed than they were at Jacksonville so I couldn’t even find my momma. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for Penn State.”

Bausley shined at South Charleston, twice being named second-team all-state and helping lead the Black Eagles to the 2020 WVSSAC State Championship game.

College offers were scarce, however, and it wasn’t until former WVU football coach Rich Rodriguez swooped in with a late offer to Jacksonville State that Bausley found his first collegiate home.

“It was a great time, I love Rich Rod,” Bausley said. “He’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. You see the steamy and the hot, but he’s cracking jokes when he’s hot. I have stories about Rich Rod that I could tell my grandkids for three hours.”

Bausley said he was only four years old in 2007 when Rodriguez left WVU, so his memories of Rodriguez as a Mountaineer are vague at best. Bausley’s father, however, remembered it well.

“My dad had a signed Rich Rod calendar,” Bausley explained. “When Rich Rod left to go to Michigan, my dad threw it in a bonfire.” 

When Bausley took his official recruiting visit to Jacksonville State, his father felt it was only right to come clean to Rodriguez.

“So I have my one-on-one meeting with Rich Rod and my dad goes ‘Coach, when you left I burned your signature,’” Bausley recalled. “Rich Rod burst out laughing.”

All Rodriguez asked in response was what, exactly, Bausley’s dad had burned. When told it was only a calendar he said, “As long as it wasn’t a couch, we’re good.’”

After redshirting in 2022, Bausley flourished for Rodriguez and the Gamecocks last fall. He started 11 games at right tackle and was named to the C-USA all-freshman team and a second-team freshman All-American.

Bausley entered the transfer portal and started to hear from some of his fellow Mountain State natives who were at WVU.

“When I was in the portal, they helped reach out to me and just let me know there were a lot of West Virginia guys,” Bausley said. “I couldn’t watch West Virginia games last year, so I didn’t really know there were that many on the team.”

Even though he was transferring to a new team, Bausley said that already knowing some of the in-state players like Nick Malone, Preston Fox, Hudson Clement and Wyatt Milum made it an easy transition.

“It’s really cool,” Bausley said. “You try to relate with all the players, but the West Virginia guys are really close. They have the same shared experiences. The guys like Preston Fox and Hudson Clement, you can’t break the bond that we have.

“When you transfer, you think it would be this sudden change, but when you have that level of familiarity with the guys, it just makes the transition seamless.”

Fox, Clement and Milum were all starters on WVU’s offense last season. Malone and Bausley are currently battling for the starting right tackle job this offseason.

Bausley said his hope is that the in-state talent at WVU will make other programs take notice of the often-overlooked Mountain State.

“A lot of schools have certain coaches that scout areas and West Virginia isn’t even an area for a lot of these schools to go to,” Bausley said. “There’s talent in the state. Obviously, it’s not at the same level as a Georgia or a Florida or a Texas, but there’s no reason why there should be schools with no scouts at least looking at the state.”

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