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Publish date: Aug 20, 2010

Record-setting running back Johnny Bailey dies at 43

Former Texas A&M-Kingsville running back Johnny Bailey died Friday morning in Houston after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 43.

Bailey, who set records and compiled yardage in football that stand as the best ever for a collegiate athlete, played football for the Javelinas in 1986-89 when the institution was known as Texas A&I.

Former Texas A&M-Kingsville running back Johnny Bailey died Friday morning.

Bailey rushed for 6,320 yards and became only the second back to rush for more than 6,000 yards in a career. The other was Tony Dorsett of the University of Pittsburgh, who had 6,082 in his four years. Bailey surpassed Dorsett’s mark at mid-season of his senior season.

Bailey had 7,803 all-purpose yards, also the best ever at the time. He finished third on the collegiate scoring chart with 428 points.

Bailey opened his college career with four consecutive 200-plus yards games. No other athlete has had such a college debut. He rushed for 100 or more yards in his first 11 college games.

His best rushing season was his first when he picked up 2,011 yards, the best single-season performance for a Lone Star Conference athlete. At the time, only two other college backs had ever rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He made every All-America team for which he was eligible for four consecutive years. He appeared on 15 of the units.

Bailey also received the Harlon Hill Trophy for three consecutive years and was runner-up for the honor as a freshman. The trophy goes to the NCAA Division II Player of the Year.

He was selected to the Football Writers of America All-America team and became the first college-division athlete to earn a berth on the roster. 

After finishing with the Javelinas, Bailey was drafted in 1990 by the Chicago Bears and also played with the St. Louis Rams. He later played with the Arizona Cardinals.