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Bears QB Tyson Bagent enjoying improbable NFL journey

Bears rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent
Bears rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent

A year ago, quarterback Tyson Bagent was playing in front of crowds of 5,500 or so fans at Division II Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Fast forward to this summer and Bagent is suiting up for one of the NFL's founding franchises, the Chicago Bears—an experience the 23-year-old undrafted rookie still finds difficult to fathom.

"Every day has been nothing short of amazing," Bagent said. "I kind of catch myself [during] pre-practice, pregame, pre-walk-through looking around and looking at certain individuals and just kind of pinching myself with just how amazed I am that I am where I am and just how thankful and blessed that I feel."

Bagent, whose name rhymes with "agent," is making a strong push for a roster spot. He has performed well in training camp and excelled in Saturday night's preseason game against the Colts, completing 9 of 10 passes for 76 yards and a 98.3 passer rating while also rushing for a 2-yard touchdown. 

After replacing P.J. Walker, Bagent played two series in the second quarter. On the first possession, he orchestrated a 17-play, 92-yard drive that burned 9:25 off the clock, connecting on 7 of 8 throws for 61 yards before sprinting into the end zone on third-and-goal from the 2 to tie the score 7-7.

Coach Matt Eberflus was suitably impressed with the drive. 

"I saw poise," Eberflus said. "I saw good protection by the line. I saw good route running by the receivers. I saw good running by the running back that was in there, so that was helpful to move the ball as well. And then I saw poise from him. Delivery was there, the accuracy looked pretty good, timing was nice, decision making was good. All the things it takes to score a touchdown, you saw it there."

Playing with poise and confidence in Indianapolis, Bagent looked more like an established veteran than an undrafted rookie—something he credits in large part to the vast experience he gained in college. The 6-3, 213-pounder played in 53 games over five seasons at Shepherd, throwing for 17,034 yards and setting an all-time record across all NCAA divisions with 159 TD passes. 

"Luckily enough, I was able to play a lot of football in college to be able to really get exposed to all situations that football has to offer, so I think that definitely serves a role," Bagent said. "I've also been playing quarterback since I was six; well, my dad forced me to play. So I've been playing for a long time, got a pretty good understanding of what needs to happen, what doesn't need to happen."

Bagent has adapted quickly to the Bears offense in part because he had to learn different systems at Shepherd.

"I had three offensive coordinators in college, all with kind of a different scheme and way of doing things," Bagent said. "So I feel like I was introduced to pretty much every single little thing that an offense can possibly do. Then here it's kind of just bringing all three of those offenses all together, just with how detailed and intrinsic everything is at this level."

“Every day has been nothing short of amazing.” Bears undrafted rookie QB Tyson Bagent

Bagent has enjoyed working with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

"I think he does a good job with situational football," Bagent said. "[With] all the checks on plays, you really can't be wrong. You can't really run a bad play. Every play is not going to be great, but we're really operating in a sense that we're just getting out of bad plays, and if anything, it's just a neutral play. I kind of like that aspect and really just following the coaching points and listening to those coaching points every play."

In addition to Bagent's experience, he also possesses excellent football intelligence and the poise to remain calm under pressure.

"The mental load that it [takes] to play quarterback in the NFL, it's a lot," Bagent said. "If you kind of let that get to you, you could start to look pretty crazy out there. I just like to keep it cool, calm and collected, let all the guys in the trenches do all the crazy dirty work and then try to get everybody on the same page mentally so that we're able to move the ball down the field."