LAKE FOREST, Ill. — He’d already become the first rookie quarterback to win a game in his debut for the Bears in 19 years on Sunday.
But thanks to a friend, Tyson Bagent found out that he’d made some history for his home state, too.
“Last night I was on the phone with a dude from Huntington. He said he had done a bunch of research and that I was the first West Virginia-born and raised quarterback to ever start in the NFL,” “I was sitting back on my couch like ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty amazing.”
Per Pro Football Reference, that’s indeed the case.
The statistics site lists just four quarterbacks who were born in West Virginia playing in the NFL, but none who grew up in the state ended up getting a start.
- Joe Gilliam was born in Charleston, West Virginia and started seven games with the Steelers from 1972-1975, but he was raised in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Paul Rickards of Wheeling, West Virginia played in just three games for the Rams in 1948 without a start.
- Fred Wyant of Weston, West Virginia played in ten games with Washington in 1956 but never started.
That leaves Bagent alone for quarterbacks who were born and raised in the State of West Virginia to win an NFL game as a starting quarterback. He’s a native of Martinsburg who played at the high school in that town before becoming a star at Division II Shepherd University.
Because of those exploits, Bagent was able to earn a shot to make the Bears as an undrafted free agent. He beat out both P.J. Walker and Nathan Peterman to get the backup spot, allowing him to fill in for Justin Fields when he injured his thumb in Week 6 against the Vikings.
While he couldn’t save that result, Bagent was effective against the Raiders in that first start, completing 21-of-29 passes for 162 yards with a touchdown along with three carries and 24 yards in a 30-12 win.
“Everything,” said Bagent when asked what that meant to him. “Everybody knows coming from where I come from, both the division I came from, kinda how I grew up with not a whole lot of football resources around me.
“So it felt good to just have hard work be rewarded.”
In the process, he made some history, which he found out from a friend.