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Chicago Bears QB Tyson Bagent has ‘beat every odd’ as 1st career start nears

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The only people who truly believed were Tyson Bagent and his father, Travis. The 23-year-old quarterback always believed this moment would come.

“It was just figuring out how I could outwork everybody,” Bagent said. “It was really just trying to get it out of the mud, putting a lot of work in the shadows just so I’d be ready for this week.”

On Sunday, Bagent could make his first NFL start. Starting quarterback Justin Fields is “doubtful” to play due to a dislocated right thumb. With Fields sidelined, Bagent is taking all the reps with the first-team offense this week.

A year ago at Division II Shepherd University, Bagent was preparing for a game against West Chester University. This week, he’s preparing to face the Las Vegas Raiders.

“Coming from where I come from, I’ve pretty much beat every odd that there was for me,” Bagent said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “So I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Five years ago, Bagent was a zero-star recruit coming out of Martinsburg High School. He chose to attend the hometown university just 20 minutes down the road, where both his parents also went to school. Once there, he set all kinds of records.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Bagent (whose last name rhymes with agent) won the Harlon Hill Trophy following the 2021 season, which is essentially the D-II version of the Heisman Trophy. The following offseason, he tested out the transfer portal and had opportunities to play at Maryland and West Virginia, but turned those offers down in order to remain at Shepherd for his senior season.

Ultimately, Bagent believed he could make it to the NFL out of Shepherd, but he did wonder if coming from a D-II school would hurt his draft stock.

“I felt like I was already playing for the best coaching staff,” Bagent said. “I felt like I was already in a winning situation. I think [in] hindsight, I definitely made the right decision in staying and coming back.”

Bagent, who majored in sports marketing, did have a backup plan if the NFL didn’t work — but he doesn’t need it yet.

“I was going to basically just CrossFit my life away, get as ripped and jacked as I possibly could and be a teacher at Martinsburg High School,” said Bagent, whose father owns a CrossFit gym and is a world champion arm wrestler.

Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy had a chance to see Bagent up close and personal at the Senior Bowl, where Getsy was a coach in February. Bagent didn’t end up hearing his name during the draft, but the Bears called soon after.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Now, Bagent will likely be starting in front of 60,000-plus fans at Soldier Field on Sunday. Some of his teammates still aren’t sure exactly where Shepherd University is.

“I haven’t heard of it at all, I think it’s in PA?” rookie receiver Tyler Scott said.

Pennsylvania? West Virginia? Close enough.

Scott and Bagent both showed up for rookie minicamp a week after the draft. NFL rookie minicamps have dozens of players, but few tryouts other than the rookie draft picks make it to the regular season. Bagent was the exception to the rule.

The first thing Scott noticed about Bagent was his preparation. Scott said Bagent’s story, no matter how it plays out the rest of the way, is an inspiration to young football players everywhere. Scott still mentors players from his high school in Ohio, and Bagent is going to be a great example for him to point to.

“You hear them talking, ‘Man, I want to go here, I want to go there,’ at the end of the day, man, if you’re good the NFL is gonna find you,” Scott said. “He’s just a true product of that and he’s somebody that — why not? Why not you? Why can’t you be that guy that goes to a D-II small school in West Virginia and end up being a starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears some day.”

Bagent is adamant that the Bears don’t have to dumb down the playbook for him. He told his coaches last week not to change the play calling just because he’s the backup.

For coach Matt Eberflus, this will be an informative week when it comes to Bagent. The Bears knew they had something when they kept Bagent over veteran backup PJ Walker. But with an undrafted rookie, you never really know until he’s thrown into the fire.

For the first time, Bagent will be taking starting reps, not working with the scout team. How he approaches this opportunity will say a lot about him.

“He’s going to have great command,” Eberflus said. “He’s going to have those things in terms of poise. … And how he processes this information that he’s got now on Wednesday [in practice].”

Bagent has been thinking a lot about a conversation he had with a buddy of his after his final college game last year.

“We were kind of talking about, hey, no matter how good or bad this goes at the next level, there is a very big chance that maybe you make the team but you might never get to start a game ever again in your whole life,” Bagent said. “You may never get that QB1 role ever again.”

Never say never.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        



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