Growing up in Randallstown, Tyler Badie played youth football down the street from the Ravens' practice facility at the Under Armour Performance Center.
Now Badie is playing for the Ravens, a sixth-round draft pick returning to the neighborhood where he spent a large part of his childhood. Riding to his first day of rookie practice on Friday, Badie gazed out the window and saw landmarks that brought back memories, including the field where he played for the Owings Mills Wolfpack.
Returning to his old stomping grounds is a surreal feeling for Badie, but his focus remains on making Baltimore's 53-man roster and contributing as a rookie running back. As a kid, he dreamed of playing for the Ravens, and he's determined to take advantage of this chance.
"The first thing Coach (John) Harbaugh said was, 'You ready to play with Lamar (Jackson)?''' Badie said. "Hell yeah! I was just really excited to get the opportunity."
Badie has fond memories of growing up in Maryland, and recalled Ray Lewis often showing up at football practices. Badie also attended a youth football camp run by Ed Reed and got the Hall of Famer's autograph.
"Ray Lewis, his daughter played Wolfpack on a lower age group than me. It was pretty cool, he used to be at all the practices and stuff," Badie said. "I lived like 10 minutes away from here."
Badie lived in Randallstown from elementary school until the 11th grade, when his mother got a new job and his family moved to Memphis. He began high school at Friends School in Baltimore, which was not a football powerhouse. He was an avid lacrosse player on travel teams and planned to play college lacrosse (perhaps at Loyola) instead of football.
"There were only 15 people on the football team," Badie said smiling. "People were not looking to give out offers."
However, Badie's football career took off after moving to Memphis and he developed into an all-SEC player at Missouri. He caught 126 passes at for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns during his college career, and that ability as a pass-catcher separated him from many running backs in this draft class. Last season, Badie broke out as a runner with 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
At 5-foot-8, 194 pounds, Badie runs with deceptive power and was an effective ballcarrier between the tackles in the SEC, where running yards are not easy to come by. However, some scouts still questioned whether he's big enough to be an every-down back in the NFL. That's a question Badie believes he can answer.
"At the end of the day, you don't sign up just to receive the ball," said Badie, who became the Ravens rookie to reach a contract agreement. "You sign up to run, you sign up to block. Going into my last year I just wanted to prove that to everybody. The biggest thing was durability. Is he going to be available? If you're not 200 pounds, is he going to hold up? I wanted to be able to show I could play against the best of the best."
The Ravens liked Badie's toughness as a runner, which is one reason they drafted him.
"You don't want to just pigeonhole him as a third-down back, because you watch him run inside, and you watch him bounce and cut things up into the teeth of the defense, and he runs with good pad level and balance and determination," said Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz. "He's going to come in and compete, and he's going to do whatever he can do to get on the field and help us out."
Part of Badie's determination comes from life experiences. He was born in New Orleans but his family moved to Maryland in 2006 after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina when Badie was just 5 years old. That experience as a young child shaped Badie's outlook on life.
"I never see anything as a negative," Badie said. "In life, things happen. It taught me a lot about adversity, toughness. A lot of times people don't come from where I come from, see what I see."
The Ravens are expecting top running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to return healthy after they missed the 2021 season due to knee injuries. Justice Hill, Ty'Son Williams and Nate McCrary will also vie for roles and playing time, but Badie looks forward to the challenge. Returning to Maryland feels like coming home, and he plans to do whatever it takes to stay.
"Anywhere you go in the NFL there's competition," Badie said. "Just going in there and being able to soak up information, that's the biggest thing I can do."