Coming into this season, we knew that Missouri running back Tyler Badie was good. But who knew he would be this good?

Badie had been a productive backup to Larry Rountree III going into this season, rushing for 1,136 yards on 245 carries with 9 touchdowns in 3 years.

Now that he is the man in the Missouri backfield, Badie has not only been a threat running the football — with 264 yards and a score in 2 games — but catching it. In Saturday’s 35-28 loss to Kentucky, Badie had 88 yards receiving and a touchdown. His all-around abilities compare favorably to another former SEC star: Alabama’s Najee Harris, now with the NFL’s Steelers.

Badie — a 3-star recruit out of high school in New Orleans who had potential as both a running back and receiver — has made himself such an asset that head coach Eli Drinkwitz said the offense will be built around him and the Tigers’ ability to run.

“He’s done a great job taking care of his body, not taking every rep in camp,” Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak told SB Nation about Badie after the Tigers’ 34-24 Week 1 victory over Central Michigan. “He knew we would have to rely on him this year.”

Badie, whose 264 yards rushing are second in the SEC, is a threat to get a first down every time he touches the ball. He knows that his team is going to rely on him heavily to carry the load at times and to help his young quarterback manage the offense.

Badie, however, remains unselfish.

“I feel like titles are kind of overemphasized,” Badie told the Columbia Tribune. “I don’t want to feel like I’m the guy. I just want to be a helpful person to the team. I feel like roles and titles get thrown around way too much, and I feel like it’s more of a team effort that helps the whole team win. That’s the biggest thing for us.”

That’s a modest comment coming from a guy who realizes he is the man this year. Badie doesn’t seem to mind that the offense will revolve around him, but he also realizes it will take more than just him if the Tigers are going to make some noise.

Drinkwitz also realizes that this team — and that Badie’s role as a leader –are works in progress that won’t happen overnight.

“You’ve got to set expectations, but you also have to have a reality of this isn’t a microwave –all of a sudden you’re SEC East champions or competing for the SEC East. It’s not Miracle-Gro,” Drinkwitz told the Columbia Tribune. “You can say all the right things. You can outwardly be doing all the right things, but it’s still a growth process. No different than when you plant a flower or you plant corn. My father-in-law’s a farmer. You’ve got to sow, and you’ve got to water the ground. You’ve got to tear up weeds, and you’ve got to battle heat, all kinds of stuff. And then you’ll reap the reward.”

The rewards may not come quickly for this team. Fans will have to be patient as some players, like Badie, continue to grow into their roles.

Badie had to sit behind Rountree and wait his turn, and so far it has paid off. He will be counted on to carry this team at times if it can’t get the passing game going. If Bazelak can continue his improvement at quarterback, it will open up the running game, which has been this team’s bread and butter under Drinkwitz.

Luckily for Missouri, it seems to have the right guy in Badie. He appears ready to be called on to lead his teammates, not only into battle each week but into victory as well.