Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette… Tyler Badie? If you find yourself alongside two of college football’s most historically dominant ball-carriers, you must be doing something right. For Badie, a 5-foot-8 senior and bell-cow back for the Missouri Tigers, his 2021 campaign has found himself slotted right alongside two of the SEC’s most well-known talents.
The conference leader in rushing yards (1,385), more than 200 yards more than Kentucky ball-carrier Chris Rodriguez, Badie has enjoyed one of the most successful seasons of any running back in the nation. A program swallowed by the blueblood prestige of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, the institutions go on and on, the recognition of what Badie has been able to do on a weekly basis has been long overdue as the do-it-all talent for the 6-5 Tigers. While his frame and stature often turn eyes away because he simply “doesn’t fit the mold” of a typical NFL bellcow, a look around the professional ranks unveils a litany of talents with heavy offensive workloads with a similar build to that of Badie.
Undersized, small, too little, however the masses want to describe Badie, one thing is for sure, the kid can flat out tote the rock.
A lightly recruited talent out of New Orleans, whose only Power 5 offer came from Missouri, Badie brings patience and elusiveness to the running back position unmatched by many in the college game. A four-year impact weapon for the Tigers, his success in second-year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s offense has seen his production increase at warp speed as the de facto RB1. The former offensive coordinator at NC State turned one-year head coach at Appalachian State before making the trip to Columbia, Drinkwitz’s usage of Larry Rountree III last fall was just an appetizer to the weekly showcase that has been Badie.
The only ball-carrier in the SEC to record four 200-plus-yard outings since Henry and Fournette both did so in 2015, Badie plays with his hair on fire and is impossible to stop once he gets in a rhythm. With 355 yards in the last two weeks combined, back-to-back wins for Missouri over Florida and South Carolina, Badie, whether it fits the script or not, has made his case as the top back in the SEC this fall.
While national attention has been accredited to Crimson Tide ball-carrier Brian Robinson, Auburn’s Tank Bigsby, or Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M, the pop Badie has provided for a program often swept under the rug trumps each of the aforementioned talents. It’s time we begin to turn our attention to one of the nation’s most underappreciated offensive headliners.
Currently on pace to shatter the Missouri single-season rushing yards record (1,578) held by Devin West (1998), where Badie finds his most success presents an awfully intriguing skill set in consideration to his projection on Sundays. As a smaller back, Badie uses his sub-6-foot frame to camouflage behind the offensive line at times. And while issues may arise at the next level where opposing linemen can stack and shed quicker, presenting a clearer window into the backfield, they have to catch Badie first, whose first two steps past the LOS are as quick as any in the game. Couple his explosiveness with confidence-based patience similar to that of Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State in 2013, and Badie is a wet fish to take down in open space with a lower half constantly churning through contact.
The clear anchor for the Tigers’ offense, Badie has also developed his game as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He is currently ranked second among all SEC running backs in receiving yards (335) and tops in receiving touchdowns (4).
A recently named semi-finalist for the Doak Award, an honor annually appointed to the nation’s top running back, don’t helmet scout when it comes to one of the SEC’s most electric talents. A backfield prospect that fits the professional mold due to his elite versatility and impact on the ground and through the air, Badie is a name to highlight as we steamroll into the pre-draft circuit.