MORGANTOWN - When Stedman Bailey found out the Orange Bowl was West Virginia's postseason football destination, he literally couldn't control himself.
"When I first heard the news, I was jumping all around the house,'' Bailey said. "We realize this is the closest we'll probably ever play to home.''
Probably the closest? Well, sure, it's probably the closest he and the rest of the Miramar High School crowd that populates WVU's football roster will ever come to playing at home.
Probably, that is, unless someone decides to build a stadium literally in one of their back yards.
If you've never spent much time in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, know that it is spread out. For instance, West Virginia's team hotel is the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. Clemson is staying at Westin Diplomat in Hollywood. Clemson is practicing at Nova Southeastern University. West Virginia's practice is at Barry University.
And if you set off to drive to each one of those locations, it would take roughly two hours to complete the cycle. In other words, this is a big place. Spread out doesn't begin to describe South Florida.
We bring that up only because of what is not spread out - Sun Life Stadium, where the Orange Bowl will be held on Jan. 4, and Miramar, where some of West Virginia's best players grew up and went to high school.
How cozy is that geographic relationship?
"I actually grew up across the lake from Pro Player Stadium,'' WVU quarterback Geno Smith said, referring to one of Sun Life Stadium's previous monikers. "You can't get much closer to home.''
No, you can't.
"I was probably about five minutes away,'' said Bailey, one of Smith's top receivers both at Miramar and WVU. "But even Miramar, that's within walking distance from the stadium. That's pretty much our neighborhood. Every day growing up, I passed by that stadium. To actually be able to play there and to have everybody from home there to watch, that's big. That's big for all of us from South Florida.''
Smith and Bailey aren't the only Miami area players on West Virginia's roster. There are 19 Floridians on West Virginia's roster and nine call Miami or Miramar home.
Most are in South Florida right now on break. The rest of the team will join them there on Thursday, when the team re-assembles to begin practices for the game.