A sea of humanity has crashed into the northern end area of the Faurot Field. Missouri tight end Daniel Parker Jr. had just grabbed a 2-point conversion to beat Florida and send the Tigers to a bowl game.
Parker was mobbed for a few moments by his teammates before the rush turned into a quiet lore. Those who had been honored for the senior day dropped off on the hill behind the end zone to take a stone in Rock M. Running back Tyler Badie took a small stone, barely bigger than his hand. His arms were too tired and sore for anything bigger
Then the seniors were carried away by their teammates. Held by fellow running backs Elijah Young, BJ Harris and Michael Cox, Badie has left his home field for the past four years for possibly the last time. A storybook ending a remarkable breakout season.
But the romanticism of the moment was lost on Badie.
“After being here for four years, I certainly saw a lot of people get carried away, but I didn’t know how much it hurt,” he said. “My legs, my booty hurt. Elijah and BJ weren’t doing a very good job of staying together, so I was like, spread out. It wasn’t the best feeling. I looked good on my face, but felt like my quads were doing more work than they were doing.
Aside from the informal exit, it’s hard to imagine a better season for Badie, who spent three years as a substitute before taking on the starting role this year. While so much has changed on the pitch – his work, the expectations others have of him – the differences are not so glaring for those who know him best.
It’s easy to take for granted what Badie does every Saturday when it’s become such a big part of the Missouri offense. He is fourth in the country with 1,385 rushing yards, averaging 6.1 per carry. He has 227 ground attempts, which leads the Tigers. Quarterback Connor Bazelak is the team’s No.2 at 30. The plan at the start of the season was for Young to be the option for a change of pace in the backfield. Young lost his job after three ineffective games and has five races since the end of September. Cox and Harris have witnessed sporadic action, but Badie is on the pitch almost every moment.
He also has the team’s most receptions at 53. Tauskie Dove is second with 34.
Hours earlier, Shaun Badie and Tanjala Gipson stand outside the southeast edge of Faurot Field, having seen their son check off another – possibly the last – in his college football career. Tyler Badie had walked from the team bus near the Mizzou arena to the southern end area for his final tiger walk.
Much of the past three years merge for the two of them. With the exception of the pandemic-hit 2020 season, nothing looks different between the last time and any of the previous. The two recall memories as they try to recount the whirlwind of nearly four seasons of college football.
“It was with Drew Lock.”
“Was that in Tennessee?” “
In just under 150 minutes, the two will be on the pitch for the senior’s pre-game activities.
“I think that’s one of those situations where you won’t start having emotions until it actually happens, and then you sort of think about it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s it. really there now, “Shaun said.
Neither are surprised by their son’s breakout season. They expected it. Badie was under-recruited out of high school in the Memphis area, a two-star prospect who failed to gain the attention of most Power Five programs. It was a frustrating time, but Badie – and Shaun’s belief that he was one of the best full-backs in the country never wavered.
That’s why Shaun wasn’t surprised when Badie made a statement in his first game as Missouri’s starting halfback, setting a career-high in rushing yards – which he has since broken three times – with 203 against Central Michigan. This is why Badie confidently said he “has been waiting for this for about three years.”
And if you look closely enough, the seeds of Badie’s fame were sown long before September.
On September 15, 2018, Missouri was in West Lafayette, Indiana, tied with Purdue at 37 with 3:28 left to play. For the final practice, backing coach Cornell Ford didn’t look to then-junior Damarea Crockett or Larry Rountree III, but to Badie, who was playing in his third collegiate game.
On the second play of the drive, Badie hit a pass, turned around and caught a screen pass that traveled 20 yards. He finished with 46 total yards on possession as the Tigers approached for a winning field goal at the end of the time limit.
“I had a lot of questions about ‘I can’t believe you are playing a freshman at that time, in a critical game like this, on the road in the Big Ten,’” said Ford. at the Missourian before the season. “I said, ‘You know, he won this opportunity.’ He did.”
Three years later, on November 13, as Missouri tried to hold onto a lead over South Carolina, Badie was again trusted to win the game. With 4:30 remaining, he had six carries and ran 62 yards to help Missouri bleed the clock.
As the kickoff against Florida approached, Badie was standing in the south end zone. He was the last senior to be announced. Shaun and Gipson were standing at the 50-yard line. Most of the players were honored before Badie took their time walking the path the rest of the team made to their families. Badie ran. Not a full sprint at game speed, but a quick jog. He stopped to hug coach Eliah Drinkwitz and athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois before addressing his parents.
“I was just happy to see my parents smile,” he said. “It was just a good feeling to go see them. I (want) to make them proud. It just makes me proud. If I can put a smile on my parents’ face, that’s all that matters.
“For me, it just makes me realize how far he’s come,” Gipson said. “He really had to take his turn, and people are starting to see what he’s capable of, but he’s waited with grace and patience, and now he’s showing people what he can do, and that’s it. just great. It was all worth it.