Standing on the Ravens’ indoor practice field Friday, running back Tyler Badie smiled as he remembered where he’d gotten his start.
“Down the street,” he recalled at the team’s rookie minicamp. “That was me over there.”
The sixth-round pick spent most of his childhood in Randallstown. He rooted for the Ravens. He went to an Ed Reed-hosted football camp at Randallstown High School, even got an autograph from the Hall of Fame safety.
But Badie’s first games were with the Owings Mills Wolfpack at Northwest Regional Park, just a short walk from the Ravens’ facility. He remembered seeing legendary linebacker Ray Lewis there, cheering on his daughter as she played for a younger Wolfpack team. (Naturally, she played linebacker.)
To return to the Baltimore area as a Raven, though — to have any shot of making the NFL, really — Badie had to leave home. He went to Friends School from sixth to 10th grade after the local private- and public-school powerhouses in football turned him down or ignored him. His favorite sport was lacrosse; Loyola Maryland and Maryland were recruiting him, and he looked up to then-Duke star Myles Jones, a fellow midfielder.
“I was going to play lacrosse in college if I would have stayed, because [with] 15 people on a football team [at Friends], people are not looking to give out offers like that,” Badie said.
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When his mother was offered a job in Memphis, Tennessee, though, Badie saw another path. He’d spent his early years in New Orleans before being displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He knew how serious the region was about football. When Badie’s mother asked him whether he wanted to leave Maryland, he said yes. His early days had hardened his resolve.
“I never see anything as a negative,” he said. “With life, stuff happens. I use it as a positive. [Relocating after Hurricane Katrina] taught me a lot of things about adversity and toughness. I use that on the field. A lot of times, people don’t come from where I come from, see what I see. So a lot of times, it’s just another thing to just add on to your stripes. Just use that as motivation to just keep pushing forward.”
In Memphis, Badie emerged as a Division I recruit, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards as a senior. After spurning the hometown Tigers to play for Missouri, he bided his time behind Larry Rountree III, now a Los Angeles Chargers reserve, before breaking out last year. He set the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,604 yards and added 54 catches for 330 yards, a byproduct of those early days on the lacrosse field.
“At the end of the day, when you play running back, you don’t sign up to just receive the ball,” he said. “You sign up to run the ball, you sign up to block, a lot of things. So going into my last year, I just wanted to prove that to everybody. The biggest thing was durability. ‘Is he going to be available? He’s not 200 pounds; can he hold up?’ My biggest thing was just going out there and just be able to show I can play against the best of the best. So that’s what I did.”
Undrafted free agents signed
The Ravens announced they’d signed 17 undrafted rookies Friday, including six wide receivers: Alabama’s Slade Bolden, Fort Valley State’s Shemar Bridges, California’s Trevon Clark, Mississippi State’s Makai Polk, The Citadel’s Raleigh Webb and Oregon’s Devon Williams.
Also signed on offense were Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown, North Carolina State running back Ricky Person and South Dakota State offensive tackle Aron Johnson.
Defensively, the Ravens signed Stephen F. Austin defensive tackle Rayshad Nichols, Auburn inside linebacker Zakoby McClain, Michigan inside linebacker Josh Ross, Texas San-Antonio outside linebacker Chuck Wiley, Florida outside linebacker Jeremiah Moon, Newberry cornerback David Vereen, Villanova cornerback Denzel Williams and Georgia State safety Chris Moore.
- Third-round pick Travis Jones has a stout build for a 325-pound defensive tackle, and the Connecticut product said he models his game after disruptive interior defenders like Akiem Hicks and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Fletcher Cox. Jones is hoping to earn third-down snaps this season, which means proving himself against quarterback Lamar Jackson in practice. “That’s going to be fun,” he said. “I know he’s fast. I’m going to try to run him down a couple times.”
- Fourth-round pick Jalyn Armour-Davis said he’s “thankful” for the adversity he faced early in his Alabama career, when injuries limited his impact. He stood out in his lone year as a starting cornerback last season. “It was good,” he said. “It was solid, but it’s nowhere near the surface. I know and believe — I think everyone here believes, and that’s why they took a chance on me, that my best football is definitely ahead of me.”
- Cornerback Damarion “Pepe” Williams got to the NFL in part because of his versatility; he lined up at free safety, strong safety, boundary cornerback, field cornerback, nickel back and dime back over his Houston career. As for how the fourth-round pick got that nickname? " ‘Pepe’ originated when I was young. I had two Spanish godmothers, [and] they were twins. So, one of them named me Pepe, and my brother is ‘Papa.’ ”