On Dec. 11, the Heisman Trophy will be given out to the best player in America. Right now, it appears that the race will come down to Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Although both players are deserving, another name should be invited to New York for the ceremony, and that is Missouri running back Tyler Badie.

Badie has been the catalyst for a team that has won 6 games to clinch a bowl berth. He is also the leading rusher in the SEC with 1,385 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He still might get an invitation to New York, especially if the Tigers manage to knock off Arkansas on Friday.

Badie’s story

Badie’s story is a simple one. He came from small Briarcrest Christian High School in New Orleans. Despite his success there, he was basically ignored by LSU and hometown school Tulane.

In his senior year, Badie had 1,186 total yards and 18 touchdowns and led his high school to the playoffs. Since none of the major Louisiana schools took notice, he decided to come to Missouri. For his first 3 years, he sat behind Larry Rountree III — a 6th-round pick by the Chargers this year — waiting patiently for his turn to shine. And boy, has he.

Badie’s finally the man

Coming into this season, Badie knew he would be carrying the load for the Tigers. In previous years, he had been a very effective backup to Rountree, rushing for 437 yards in 2018, 457 in 2019 and 242 in a shortened 2020.

In the past few weeks when the Tigers have needed him against SEC opponents, Badie has stepped up his game, rushing for 254 yards against Vanderbilt, 209 against South Carolina and 146 against Florida. He is also on the verge of breaking the Missouri rushing record of 1,578 yards held by Devin West.

He’ll have a chance to break that record against Arkansas and in whatever bowl game the Tigers will attend. With all of this going for him, why wouldn’t he be invited to New York?

Why Badie might not be invited

As good and as talented as Badie has been this year, what’s hurting his chances is the Tigers’ season. Most Heisman candidates have played for successful teams. (An exception was Paul Hornung, who won in 1956 when Notre Dame won only 2 games.)

Had Badie managed more than 41 rushing yards against No. 1 Georgia, he’d probably already have his ticket punched.

What also may be hurting his chances is that a running back hasn’t won the trophy since Alabama’s Derrick Henry in 2015.

In Henry’s Heisman year, he rushed for 1,986 yards and an SEC-record 28 touchdowns, breaking the mark set by another Heisman winner, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Although Badie’s numbers are impressive, had the Tigers been contending for an SEC East title or had an 8- or 9-win season, he probably would have increased his chances of being invited to New York.

Why he should be invited

Despite all those things going against him, Badie has earned a trip to New York. If it weren’t for Young, more than likely Badie would be the front-runner for SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

What we do know is that Badie, in his 1st year as a starter, will probably be a unanimous All-SEC pick, an honor that will be deserved.

He also should be praised for carrying a team that was left for dead a few weeks ago. Since Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz decided to turn more of the offense over to Badie, the Tigers have gotten better.

So although Badie might not be a Heisman candidate, he is certainly the MVP of the 2021 Missouri Tigers and should be recognized as such.