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Bagent sees efforts pay off with 53-man roster spot

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Bears quarterback Tyson Bagent learned his spot on the initial 53-man roster was solidified when he received a text from general manager Ryan Poles Tuesday. The message read: "Congratulations. Be an asset to Justin [Fields]. Stay focused. Stay ready."

As an undrafted rookie, Bagent signed with the Bears in May after playing five seasons at Division II Shepherd University in West Virginia, where he set an all-time record across all NCAA divisions with 159 touchdown passes.

With an understanding of how difficult earning a roster spot would be, Bagent still felt confident his intangibles such as discipline, love for the game and high football IQ would help him succeed during training camp. 

"I think looking back on it, thinking about the odds, that is pretty crazy," Bagent said. "But like I said, this is just something that always made sense to me. I just took to it as every single day trying to put my best foot forward, trying to give it my all, trying to execute at the highest level that I know how to. Thankfully enough, that all has paid off so far."

Any Bears front office member who's spoken about Bagent – from Poles to assistant general manager Ian Cunningham to coach Matt Eberflus – has harkened back to a specific trait: "poise."

Walking out of the tunnel at Soldier Field Aug. 12, Cunningham experienced a moment of clarity in regards to Bagent. As Cunningham watched the QB head onto the field for his first NFL preseason game, he thought, "it was like he's been here before."

"He's got this moxie. He has this confidence about him," Cunningham told reporters Wednesday. " He's displayed it ever since he's been here. And then in-game exposure, his accuracy, decision-making, his poise, we saw what he was able to do with his legs. I think the kid's got a bright future."

Bagent attributes that moxie to two things: the 53 games he played over five seasons at Shepherd and his understanding that the game of football is no different even though he's gone from Division II to the NFL. 

"You go out there and it's still 11-on-11," Bagent said. "The field is the same size, you're still throwing and running the football. So I think if you let that get to you, if you look at the bright lights and the craziness that's going on, it could easily overwhelm you. And I know if I get overwhelmed with all of the mental things that are going on as a quarterback in this league, that could easily cause the offense to start looking crazy and not as effective."

Take a look at the players on the Bears' initial active roster for the 2023 season. (As of Aug. 29, 2023)

Keeping a level head and not letting the moment get too big are traits that attracted the Bears to Bagent in the first place. During his press conference Wednesday, Poles credited Bears co-director of player personnel Jeff King and area scout Tom Bradway with finding Bagent, saying they "really stood on the table for Tyson." 

Cunningham recalled King coming into his office after seeing Bagent at Shepherd and "raving about this guy whose dad was a pro arm wrestler." While Cunningham thought, "who is this guy?" he was intrigued by King's enthusiasm.

"We were able to see [Bagent] and [offensive coordinator] Luke [Getsy] was able to see him down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl," Cunningham said, "so then we got another touchpoint to him. There was a familiarity there, there was a comfort level with him, and then obviously getting him to the UDFA process and getting excited about that. He just continued to show us every single step of the way [that] he's growing. We're just excited to have him."

Poles acknowledged Wednesday that Bagent still has "a long ways to go now." The QB agrees, telling reporters Wednesday that taking a deep breath following roster cuts isn't an option considering the long, taxing NFL season is just over a week away. 

Rather than getting lost in the newfound spotlight following his performance during the preseason, Bagent has kept to his small circle of family and friends, continued praying every day and "kept the main thing the main thing." Still, Bagent is taking time to soak in the moment and will do so this weekend with his family.

"We're trying to not let my guard down and remain focused so I can still execute at a high level," Bagent said. "But a lot of people in my family, a lot of my friends, were definitely super excited. I felt super excited and blessed to be able to make the roster and that's kind of where it is. I'm going to see my family this weekend. We have the weekend off. It'll be the first time I see them in a while, so I'm pretty excited."

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