When he first stepped onto the HBU campus in 2017, Bailey Zappe was handed the reins to the HBU football program.
The junior from Victoria, Texas, has started 21 of 22 games, missing one game to an injury his freshman year. He holds every Huskies career, single season and single-game passing record imaginable, but leading the program to being a contender in the Southland Conference is what matters to him most.
“The biggest change I saw this spring was the mindset of this team,” Zappe said. “Everybody came to every workout and put in extra work, so there was a big improvement all around. You come into this season feeling confident everybody is going to do whatever it takes to get it done.”
Zappe threw five touchdown passes in his first season, but with the installation of a new offense, he tied for the Southland lead and ranked 12th in the nation with 23 touchdowns in 2018.
“This is Bailey’s second year under Coach (Zach) Kittley and they have an effective ability to communicate well with one another,” head coach Vic Shealy said. “Bailey has always been a good student of the game, whether it be practice video or opponent video — he just loves the game of football. He loves studying the game, he’s become more knowledgeable and has really learned how to watch and learn from tape.”
“Being able to watch and break down film has a lot to do with our success,” Zappe said. “I enjoy football so much — I love watching film by myself or with the coaches and learning the other team’s tendencies and coverages.”
Zappe spent much of this spring, putting what he learned from tape into practice on the field. “Spring ball was really good — for myself, I just wanted to continue to be a better leader and teammate,” Zappe said. “It’s my job to put the other 10 guys in the right spot to execute the offense.”
“Bailey has demonstrated a greater mastery of the offense and you can see the way he commands the game with confidence,” Shealy said. “He has really become that coach on the field you want. Fundamentally, his release is quicker and his decision-making is quicker, so he gets the ball out and where it needs to be. That allows us to play faster than the defense can react.” Quarterbacks cannot be successful without a solid group of receivers. As a freshman, Jerreth Sterns led the conference with 68 receptions, including four touchdowns, and junior transfer Terry Tillmon also hauled in four touchdowns. Add in Vernon Harrell, Gamar Girdy Brito, Nick Sexton and Corey Ceniceros, and the Huskies have plenty of talent, depth and options to continue to put big points on the scoreboard.
“Having more chemistry should translate big time for us this year,” Zappe said. “Last year, we were just six months in and getting to know each other. Now, we’ve had a big gap of time between last year, the end of the season and through spring ball. A lot of the time, we just go out and throw and catch and go over the offense. It’s solely on us when the coaches aren’t around to develop that communication on our own and the cohesion we need to be successful.”
“The communication with the wide receivers has been quicker; you see it on the field in real time,” Shealy said. “Bailey makes the other players around him smarter. He had a tremendous year and I believe we have one of the more exciting players in the Southland Conference coming back. He led the league in touchdown passes last year, so what we have worked on is reducing the turnovers and bad plays, and I thought we did a good job with that this spring.
HBU opens the 2019 season on the road against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent UTEP Aug. 31 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso. The Huskies play a 12-game schedule this season, including six home games. Season tickets can be purchased by calling 281.649.3143 or online at HBUHuskies.com.
View the 2019 football schedule.