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Is this the year for Tyler Badie’s breakout season?

Eli Drinkwitz got the best out of Nyheim Hines. Can he do the same with Tyler Badie in 2021?

Missouri v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The term “workhorse” get thrown around far too often when discussing the running back position. A workhorse back, to me, is a back who can consistently handle 20+ carries in a game if that’s what’s asked of him.

The Tigers had one of those last year. And now he’s moving on.

Larry Rountree III finished the 2020 season with at least 20 carries in five of his final seven games in a Missouri uniform. His 620 total rushing attempts over the last three seasons is third among all D-1 running backs, behind only Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

The Tigers won’t replace Rountree’s production with one player. That’s just not realistic. Running backs who can handle 200+ carries per season don’t grow on trees.

This isn’t Eli Drinkwitz’s first rodeo with this kind of proposition.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? The only time Drinkwitz spent multiple seasons as a team’s play-caller was at NC State from 2016-2018.

Drinkwitz had a true workhorse back with the Wolfpack in 2016 who went by the name Matthew Dayes. Dayes, a senior, finished that season with 249 carries.

That’s not easy to replace. Drinkwitz pieced things together the following year with three different running backs carrying the ball at least 70 times. Nyheim Hines led the way with 197 carries. Reggie Gallaspy II added 116 rush attempts and Jaylen Samuels posted another 77.

Hines is the name we should hone in on here, because he’s the best comparison for Missouri’s upcoming situation.

Hines profiles similarly to Mizzou’s current leader in the clubhouse to fill the gap left by Rountree, Tyler Badie.

Hines was listed at 5-foot-8, 178 pounds as a high school recruit. He finished his college career at 5-foot-9, 197 pounds. Rivals listed Badie as a 5-foot-9, 168-pound recruit. The Tigers now have Badie’s official measurements at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds.

The similarities between Hines and Badie run deeper than the measurements.

Both players were primarily viewed as pass-catching backs early in their college careers. Hines saw his workload come to a crescendo in his third and final season at NC State. It just so happened to be his second year in Drinkwitz’s system.

Could Badie be following a similar career path?

Tyler Badie vs. Nyheim Hines

Yr - Statistics Nyheim Hines Tyler Badie
Yr - Statistics Nyheim Hines Tyler Badie
FR - Carries 48 89
FR - Rush Yards 243 437
FR - Receptions 20 12
FR - Rec. Yards 256 130
FR - Touchdowns 2 2
SO - Carries 13 108
SO - Rush Yards 44 457
SO - Receptions 43 32
SO - Rec. Yards 525 356
SO - Touchdowns 0 8
JR - Carries 197 48
JR - Rush Yards 1112 242
JR - Receptions 26 28
JR - Rec. Yards 152 333
JR - Touchdowns 12 6

The profiles are similar. The usage has been comparable. Hines might have slightly better straight-line speed than Badie, but Badie has some more wiggle than Hines.

I would love to see Badie’s workload increase the same way Hines’ did in his final year at NC State. Badie is a bit undersized for a true workhorse load. That’s fine. He doesn’t need to get 20 carries per game.

But could he handle 15 carries and 3-5 targets per game? He’s finished a game with 15+ carries just once in his Missouri career. That should change in 2021. Badie and Elijah Young should be able to combine to carry the load shared by Badie and Rountree last season.

Drinkwitz displayed a willingness in 2017 to split the workload between multiple backs. The result was an 1,100-yard, 12 touchdown season for Nyhiem Hines. NC State’s running backs combined that year for more than 2,000 yards rushing and more than 30 rushing touchdowns.

The Tigers have the ingredients to have a similarly productive season on the ground, but it will require Drinkwitz to once again place trust in an “undersized” back to carry the majority of the load.