Tyson Bagent, welcome to the 1.4%. How Bears’ QB catapulted from Division II to NFL starter in mere months

Mike Locksley had seen sufficient.

The College of Maryland head coach had watched the Division II quarterback lighting up his competitors 69 miles northwest in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Tyson Bagent had thrown for five,000 yards and 53 touchdowns (every DII-best marks) en path to profitable the 2021 Harlon Hill Award, Division II soccer’s equal of the Heisman Trophy.

When Bagent entered the switch portal in 2022, Maryland referred to as.

“The numbers that he put up there at Shepherd, these numbers are spectacular no matter what division you are taking part in in,” Locksley instructed Yahoo Sports activities by cellphone Thursday. “If you recruit a highschool participant that is not taking part in 5A ball however taking part in 1A ball per se, it is: ‘Do they dominate that competitors?’ He dominated the competitors at that stage.

“So we had only a few questions.”

Bagent (rhymes with “agent”) visited Maryland that offseason, watching movie with coaches, breaking down his Shepherd offense for them and putting in Maryland ideas. Locksley walked away as impressed by Bagent’s soccer intelligence and information of protections as he had been by the quarterback’s accuracy and playmaking capability.

Maryland supplied Bagent a soccer scholarship. So did in-state West Virginia. Bagent as an alternative returned to his dad and mom’ alma mater to finish a 53-start Shepherd profession that includes 159 profession landing passes – probably the most by any NCAA quarterback in any division ever.

Scouts and brokers visited Shepherdstown to see the marvel. The Senior Bowl despatched govt director Jim Nagy to campus to ask Bagent as the one Division II participant this 12 months.

Nagy’s reminiscence flashed again to a different small-town quarterback who had earned 4 Professional Bowl berths after taking part in FCS, if not Division II, soccer.

“The man he jogged my memory of was Tony Romo,” Nagy instructed Yahoo Sports activities. “His moxie, his mobility, his contact. I imply, there’s simply numerous issues that jogged my memory of when Tony got here out of Jap Illinois.”

Quick ahead to final week and in, nicely, an japanese metropolis of Illinois, Bagent was finishing his lightning-quick journey from Division II quarterback to NFL starter – with a win – in mere months. Bagent joined Jon Kitna, Keith Null and Todd Bouman as the one quarterbacks to matriculate from Division II play to an NFL begin since 2002, when the NFL started protecting detailed snap-count knowledge.

Put one other manner: Of the 287 quarterbacks who’ve began a recreation within the final 21 years, Bagent is among the many 1.4% who managed to leap from DII to a professional begin.

The Chicago Bears beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 30-12, in Bagent’s debut begin.

Sunday evening, the Bears will face the Los Angeles Chargers on nationwide tv with Bagent anticipated to begin once more behind heart.

It’s early and hyperbolic to consider that the 6-3, 215-pound Bagent is already on the Romo manufacturing monitor even when their journeys embrace some similarities. Proper now hottest comparisons, as NFL comparisons are inclined to, mirror Bagent’s ceiling greater than his flooring or almost certainly final result.

And but: The Bears named him backup quarterback over veteran journeymen P.J. Walker and Nathan Peterman in August for a purpose. The workforce takes nonetheless additional satisfaction within the effectivity with which Bagent executed final week’s win – arguing not {that a} developmental quarterback is wherever close to peaking, however quite that he’s understanding and maximizing his present ability set to win.

“It would not simply soar out of his hand, however there’s capability to anticipate,” one workforce supply instructed Yahoo Sports activities, evaluating Bagent’s model to that of 13-time Professional Bowl quarterback Drew Brees. “He’s an environment friendly thrower. There’s not numerous wasted motion (to) see it, throw it and get the ball to receivers.

“The decisiveness, the fast set off…(these) masks a number of the arm power questions, proper?”

How Tyson Bagent landed in DII soccer, then dominated

It’s beneficiant, if correct, to say that Bagent obtained two Division I scholarship gives out of highschool.

Albany and Robert Morris (in Pennsylvania) might every lay declare. However one coach, Gabe Luvara, was chargeable for each. As Albany assistant offensive coordinator and tight ends coach in 2017, Luvara offered his colleagues on providing the two-time West Virginia state champion who grew up in Luvara’s house state. When Robert Morris named Luvara offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2018, Luvara satisfied his new employer to increase a Hail Mary supply to Bagent spring of his senior 12 months.

“He had a easy movement, actual fluid even then as a younger child,” Luvara instructed Yahoo Sports activities this week. “He was a state champion quarterback taking part in in a system the place they threw the ball a ton, so he was used to having the sport on his shoulders.”

Luvara received’t go as far as to agree Bagent ran a pro-style offense in highschool, however he does keep in mind that the unfold system required Bagent to see, react and course of coverages continuously. The psychological calls for didn’t preserve Bagent from demonstrating he was a “sneaky good athlete” with a “gradual heartbeat,” Luvara mentioned. Luvara was offered. Different Division I coaches didn’t appear to note.

Bagent opted to play for Shepherd close to house, profitable the beginning job freshman 12 months and rewriting file books as quickly as that season. A seven-touchdown recreation in opposition to West Virginia Wesleyan? No drawback. Single-game faculty data in opposition to a regional champion? That occurred, too.

The stage had grown; Bagent’s success had stored tempo.

By the point Shepherd was celebrating its first helmet within the Senior Bowl final January, Bagent had accomplished 69% of his profession passes for a whopping 17,034 yards and 159 touchdowns to 48 interceptions.

“Ball is ball, and Tyson can play,” mentioned Luvara, who’s now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania. “So that you begin asking your self: What’s higher, Tyson who performed at somewhat decrease stage however performed all these recreation reps and his mind has all this library of issues he’s seen? Or a man who possibly solely began one or two years at an FBS or FCS stage?

“I don’t have the reply to it, however I do know he’s seen rather a lot and he’s processed rather a lot and that issues if you’re going on the market making an attempt to execute at an excellent quick stage.”

Nagy, who estimated he heard from “4 or 5 NFL guys” when he began posting Bagent clips in 2022, believed Bagent’s expertise was sufficient to warrant a draft choice. Add in Bagent rising up the son of a 17-time world champion arm wrestler (Travis Bagent has received at the least six instances with every hand), and nobody was involved the all-star highlight could be too huge. Bagent navigated the Division I competitors easily on the Senior Bowl, finishing a game-best 77.2% of a game-high 22 makes an attempt for 138 yards whereas throwing one interception.

The Bears, whose offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was Bagent’s head coach within the all-star recreation, would quickly finalize their evaluation. Professional scouting director Jeff King and northeast scout Tom Bradway had already visited Shepherd throughout the 2022 season.

King had left an impression when he returned again “raving” about Bagent, assistant common supervisor Ian Cunningham instructed reporters in August.

The Bears gave Bagent a draftable grade, at the same time as their grading system doesn’t pinpoint a selected spherical. They finally landed him as an undrafted free agent.

After Bagent’s moxie and effectivity carried by means of rookie minicamp, OTAs and coaching camp, preseason recreation consolation nearly didn’t shock them.

“It’s like he’s been right here earlier than,” Cunningham mentioned after Bagent earned the Bears’ QB2 spot. “His accuracy, decision-making, poise. We noticed what he’s capable of do along with his legs.

“I believe the child’s bought a brilliant future.”

Bagent coming into NFL with ‘staple of how I’ve at all times tried to play’

The Bears neither hoped nor deliberate to jumpstart that brilliant future lower than two months later.

However after Justin Fields dislocated his thumb on Oct. 15, Bagent entered the sport within the third quarter in opposition to the Minnesota Vikings to combined outcomes. Bagent accomplished 10-of-14 passes for 83 yards on the day however misplaced a strip sack that the Vikings returned for a scoop-and rating within the third quarter. Bagent stored calm to steer a nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive within the fourth quarter capped off by a quarterback-sneak landing. The one-score recreation wouldn’t final, the Vikings intercepting Bagent’s deep move the next drive.

In opposition to the Raiders, in his first begin, Bagent was steadier.

Bagent accomplished an environment friendly 21-of-29 passes for 162 yards and one landing within the win, speeding three extra instances for twenty-four yards. Not less than as notably: He by no means turned the ball over. Certain, his passes had been fast and principally briefly vary, his longest completion touring 15 air yards. However Bagent led the offense to transform on 61.5% (8-of-13) third downs, the Bears’ second-best mark within the final 4 years.

He did so with threaded passes in site visitors – cue the 13-yard completion to receiver Tyler Scott because the move rush closed in on third-and-5 throughout the Bears’ first scoring drive – and with good compromises, just like the third-and-6 he confronted within the third quarter. The Bears dialed up the idea on which Bagent had hit Scott down area earlier that day; however he as an alternative recognized a wise checkdown to operating again Darrynton Evans that stored the drive alive.

5 performs later, Bagent was credited along with his first NFL landing move.

“I really feel like that’s a staple of how I’ve at all times tried to play quarterback: simply getting the ball out of your arms, after which simply attempt to mix that with making actually good choices,” Bagent mentioned after the win. “I bought away with, in faculty numerous instances, getting the ball out of your arms but additionally forcing some issues as a result of I had the liberty to take action. At this stage … if it’s not there, play the following play. Finish each drive with a kick.”

Bagent earned a 97.2 passer ranking. Getsy praised the rookie’s “no-flinch mentality.”

This week, Bagent prepares to begin in opposition to the Chargers, who’ve struggled much more than the 3-4 Raiders. The Chargers have managed simply two wins in six tries. Their protection ranks second-worst in EPA/play (0.09 factors allowed) per SumerSports, three spots under the Raiders’ 0.07.

The Bears publicly say they belief Bagent and his arm power along with his recreation plan however extra realistically will probably proceed to emphasise the fast move to capitalize on Bagent’s speedy recall. They’ll skip a number of the designed reads that Fields enjoys however nonetheless let Bagent use the wheels they consider he does have, a workforce supply mentioned.

“We will sit right here and we will say that he is performed at a decrease stage of competitors, however for those who turned on the tape and also you did not know that he went to Shepherd College, you’ll suppose that he went to one of many larger D-I faculties based mostly off how he performed,” the supply mentioned. “That is only a tribute to him and his capability to course of shortly, his consolation within the pocket. You talked about larger, quicker athletes – however once more, he ran and was environment friendly with the ball final week.

“There’s one thing to be mentioned for simply, he is only a participant. He is only a soccer participant no matter stage of competitors. It exhibits you are able to do it for those who bought that capability.”

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