In a sport filled with immeasurable talent across the country, some athletes can easily fly under the radar.

But that hasn’t been the case for Houston Baptist University quarterback Bailey Zappe.

Zappe, who graduated from Victoria East in 2017, is coming off a strong junior season for the Huskies after passing for 3,811 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Zappe led the FCS in touchdowns, completions, attempts and was ranked second in total yards.

“You look at all of those things, and it’s exciting,” Zappe said. “I’m extremely blessed, but I want to continue to stay humble and continue to work hard. My dad and coach (Vic Shealy) always tell me to stay humble.”

Zappe’s junior campaign was capped off by being selected as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.

The award features the nation’s most outstanding player in the FCS.

“I’m extremely grateful to be named with the top offensive players in the country,” Zappe said. “I’m blessed to be named with the top FCS players. I look to improve on it and lead my team to the playoffs.”

Zappe is no stranger to success after leading Victoria East to the quarterfinals as a senior.

He passed for 3,770 yards and 37 touchdowns, while rushing for 633 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns during his senior year.

Zappe has followed a similar path in college, improving in every season.

As a true freshman, he passed for 1,548 yards, which included five passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

His sophomore season featured career-highs across the board before his recent offensive surge.

“I give all the credit to my coaches and teammates – especially coach (Zach Kittley) coming into the offense that we run,” Zappe said. “It fits my strengths, and it allows me to get the the ball to all of my playmakers. I can never be grateful enough for having him and coach Shealy allowing me to be the quarterback of this program.”

Kittley, who is the Huskies’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, came to HBU in 2018.

He previously coached at Texas Tech, where he was able to instruct Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“I’m able to learn what he taught Patrick Mahomes,” Zappe said. “I get to work on all the things he worked on with him, and ask him as much as I can.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced gyms to close until recently, but the 6-foot-2 Zappe has remained in shape with different home workouts.

Some of his training includes running, throwing and using workouts the Huskies’ coaching staff send him and his teammates.

“I try to run as much as I can,” he said. “I usually get two miles in everyday. I do some tempo runs and things that we would do at school. If nobody is around, I still go to the East field and work on some quarterback drills.”

Zappe hopes to have his best season yet as a senior.

And with the Huskies only winning two conference games in the last three seasons, his main focus is to lead his team to a Southland Conference Championship.

“The goal is to win a conference championship,” he said. “I want to continue to be a better quarterback and a leader. I want to cut out turnovers and mistakes so it gives us more opportunities to score touchdowns. That all comes from studying film, learning the other team’s defense and staying poised in the pocket.”

Zappe knows NFL scouts will have their eyes on him the moment he steps on the field.

He hopes to play well enough to get an opportunity.

“Making it to the NFL is my biggest dream,” Zappe said. “But I want to continue to stay humble and continue to work hard. That’s the only thing I’ve been doing and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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