.If you google Tyson Bagent there is no shortage of articles on him. Especially after his spectacular Senior Bowl performance. His bio page on the Shepherd Rams website reads like an award show best-of list. There are 41 honors and awards listed. He owns 27 Shepherd school records. There are also blurbs under the title, “Tyson Bagent’s Heroics in the Game’s Final Seconds”. It is no wonder that this D-II quarterback has earned an invite to the 2023 NFL combine. Physically he is your prototypical quarterback at 6-2, 210 pounds. Mentally he is grounded and confident. He knows where he belongs and he is ready to WOW the NFL.
Every year, there are hundreds of players vying for a pro football future. Few of them come from the Division II level. But speak with Bagent, as we did, and you know right away he is different. He is confident without being cocky. He is convinced without being conceited. All of the prospects have a journey. Bagent’s is unlike most.
Tyson Bagent is Ready To WOW The NFL Combine
Where It All Started
Bagent grew up in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He started playing tackle football at six years old. “I was lucky enough to play on a straight-up dynasty of a youth league football team. We played in the championship game every year,” he told us with excitement. His passion for football had begun. He grew up watching Martinsburg High School football games and they were a consistently successful program. He won the QB1 job his sophomore year and found instant success with an established team.
Bagent says that is when his love for football took hold of his life. “I think that right there was when I felt I could go to college. People started saying that I was one of the best in the area or one of the best that played at Martinsburg. I knew that there had been guys that played at Martinsburg that went on to play college football so wrapping my head around that and pushing for that goal.” Bagent was named Gatorade Player of The Year for West Virginia. He finished his career at Martinsburg with 7,800 passing yards and 112 touchdowns. Along the way, he led his team to two state football championships.
When Tyson decided to attend Shepherd University it was for a variety of reasons most of which involved his family. He grew up in a large extended family. His maternal grandparents would host family dinners every other Sunday. All of his aunts, uncles, and cousins would be there. It was a tradition that gave Bagent a solid and unbreakable foundation. He is the oldest of four kids and he takes his role as big brother very seriously. “I think I have got the best family in the world so I just want to be as close to them as I can,” Bagent said.
He is also not one to take family and opportunities for granted. Bagent told us that while his maternal side of the family came from considerable financial security, his father did not have running water in the house until he was a teenager. Bagent says being there for family matters to him.
In fact, that family foundation led him to Shepherd. His grandparents attended the same church as Shepherd University head coach Coach Ernie McCook. McCook has spent more than 30 years in college football, including the last five years as head coach at Shepherd. He has coached All-Americans and major award winners. His assessment of Bagent is succinct. “I’ve never been around a player who has the physical ability, the mental ability, and the work ethic and team leadership as Tyson does,” he told us this week. McCook has known the Bagent family since Tyson was born. That established relationship with McCook was a major factor in Bagent’s decision to play at Shepherd.
McCook followed Bagent’s career through high school “I was really surprised WVU didn’t offer him.” said McCook. “We had just won a national championship. I’m sure in his head he thought, ‘I can have the chance to stay home, close to my parents, and grandparents, and I can stay close to my siblings, and play for a team that has a chance to win a lot of football games.’” Which was exactly what Bagent was thinking. “I had offers from Albany in New York and Robert Morris in Pittsburgh were the two D-I offers I had. Neither of those was attractive enough at the time to take me away from what I knew about Shepherd which was a winning program that liked to throw the ball a lot,” said Bagent.
“When you talk to a lot of high school athletes, and there is that ‘DI or bust,’ it’s their ego talking and not their competitive spirit. But he is a very grounded young man. He’s not of this generation.” explained McCook. “He has an unbelievable competitive spirit. But he has zero ego when it comes to himself,” McCook added.
Furthermore, because Shepherd University was only 25 minutes away Bagent had his own cheering section “On Saturdays, especially in our area there is not a whole lot to do except go to Shepherd football games. Which is I think there has been so much success because of the game day atmosphere that they have been able to provide over the years. I had family, friends, and all my buddies from high school, when they were visiting home. That is another reason I think my experience at shepherd was so special and amazing,” Bagent said with a smile in his voice.
The Transfer Portal
Like so many others with opportunities before them, Bagent entered the transfer portal after his junior year. He was happy with his situation at Shepherd but was willing to explore other opportunities. He was upfront with McCook. “I thought there was a real possibility that he could leave,” McCook said. “Tyson was very transparent through the entire process,” Bagent told him he was going to stay in the portal for 10 days to see what offers might come.
The offers did come and Bagent was very close to transferring to Maryland. But going from DII to DI would have meant not all of his units would have qualified. Transferring would have set Bagent back a year and a half. “My grandfather was really sick at the time I wanted him to see me graduate,” he explained. “I was able to graduate. He was able to see my degree. He was really invested in my academic success. I had no issues with the situation I was in so it was nothing to come back and have another successful year and graduate on time,” Bagent said. His grandfather passed away a week after he graduated.
Always Focused On The Longterm Goal
Bagent has been a successful quarterback at every level he has played. So, it is no wonder he had confidence in the process. “Thankfully for me, I had a greater understanding of how the whole scheme worked. I knew that the quarterback at Shepard that was there in 2017 the year before me. Conner Jessup got a shot with the Redskins (now the Washington Commanders).”
“I knew if I went there and put my best foot forward and did what I was supposed to do and I was good enough the NFL would come calling no matter where you were at. That was also playing in the back of my mind. It was a marathon and not necessarily a sprint,” he explained. He made a decision to do what was best for the long term of his career. In hindsight, it has put him right where he should be; in front of pro scouts.
Bagent graduated from Shepherd University with a Bachelor of Science & Sports Marketing degree; and those 41 football awards, and 27 school records, as well as 17,034 passing yards, and 159 passing touchdowns.
The Senior Bowl
Notably, Bagent attended the Manning Passing Academy last summer and was surrounded by college football’s cream-of-the-crop quarterbacks. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, Mississippi State’s Will Rogers, and Kentucky’s Will Levis were all there.
So, when he arrived at the Senior Bowl he was ready to work. “I was extremely confident going in. It was obviously cool to be around those guys because I know they put a lot of work into their craft as well. And it is cool to be on the stage with some of the best in the country. It was exciting and I feel like going in I was the only one who knew I was supposed to be there,” he told us. “I felt as if my whole goal was to just execute on everything. I was coached to show my personal athletic football IQ. Then leave that whole week with a lot more people believing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be – that was the whole goal,” Bagent continued.
He achieved that goal when he went 17 for 22 with 138 passing yards. “I thought the game was the one time I could be like I don’t have to worry about anything. I had already put in the work. And I already knew the offense I was part of so it was just going out there and just being able to play free.” Bagent’s goal was to let people know he deserved to be there. He accomplished that in spades.
The NFL Combine
Surely, you would think any player getting ready for the NFL combine would be nervous. So much is at stake. Bagent is ready for the big stage. “There is no drop-off. So, I am more than ready to roll and if there is anything I don’t know, I love that because I will never not know that again. I keep a mental log of everything,” said Bagent with quiet confidence. “I am just excited. And I know all the work that has been put in and that the preparation has brought an extreme amount of peace in my life,” he said.
Just like at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine provides a lot of time with pro coaches. “I am just excited to get on the field and to talk to coaches and show people all the abilities that I have to offer on an athletic level,” Bagent told us. “But I’m more interested in providing them with whatever they need to to make them feel confident with selecting me to be a part of their team for next season. I’m looking forward to more football questions and wowing everybody in that aspect just as much as I am ready to wow people in any other aspect.”
What A Difference A Game Makes
Despite being a D-II quarterback, his performance in Alabama has opened a lot of eyes. After his performance in the Senior Bowl, he has gone from a virtual unknown to being listed on some mock draft top 10 quarterback lists. “It doesn’t surprise me but that doesn’t mean that it is not still super amazing. I’m super grateful for all that. I know that where I come from there are not a lot of people that make it athletically. I’m super happy.” In fact, Bagent’s collegiate stats blow his counterparts out of the water. “Right now All my eggs are in this basket. This is what I want to do with my life. And what I think I am supposed to do with my life,” he said.
But he is also prepared for what is next. In what he hopes will be a post-pro football life, he has plans to finish graduate school to get a secondary degree in education. He told us he can see himself being a school principal down the road.
What The Pros Are Saying
We spoke with an NFL scout who gave his thoughts on Bagent. He did so on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak regarding specific players on behalf of his team. He was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl week. Of Bagent, he said, “You have to like where his head is. The moment is not too big for him. He is confident in what he knows and is willing to do whatever it takes to learn what he does not know.”
By all means, you’ll want to learn how to say his name. It is pronounced like ‘agent’ with a B. In fact, Bagent’s signature hashtag on Twitter and Instagram is #shhhhhhhhhhhh which would lead us to believe that he is the best-kept secret invited to the 2023 NFL Combine. But not for much longer.
Photo courtesy: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports