Michael Badejo evolves into heart and soul of TSU Tigers
MIchael Badejo. Photo courtesy tsu.edu.

Michael Badejo’s career at Texas Southern is coming to an end Saturday when the Tigers travel to Alabama State for the season finale.

It hasn’t been the career the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end envisioned when he first transferred to TSU from SMU in 2018. He has endured a lot of losing. In fact, Badejo didn’t experience his first win as a Tiger until this season when they broke a 19-game losing streak with the win against North American University, a glorified club team, on Oct. 2.

“My favorite quote is everything happens for a reason,” said Badejo, who is a fifth-year senior and graduate student at TSU this semester. “Everything is going literally how it’s supposed to be.”

TSU coach Clarence McKinney, who inherited Badejo from the previous coaching staff, credits him for being an outstanding leader and the heart and soul of the team.

“He is the heart of our team, the heart of our defense,” McKinney said. “Since the day I got here, he has stepped into the role of being a leader and he leads by example. He works extremely hard on the field, off the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.

“The guys listen to him because they see that he does things the right way and we are going to miss him.”

The Preseason All-SWAC Second-Team defensive lineman has 27 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble for the Tigers, who are 2-7 overall and 2-5 in SWAC.

Badejo recently sat down with The Defender to discuss his college career, this season and what motivates him.

Q: What has this season been like?

A: “It’s been a bumpy road obviously from the grind this summer to fall camp and going into the season. Honestly, it’s not what we expected but even through the losses we’ve got, we are still improving each game. We finally won and you’ve seen a lot of improvement.”

Q: [TSU] went three seasons without a win. What was it like playing well but not getting the results you wanted?

A: “Obviously, it makes me upset from all of the hard work we’ve put in throughout the week and not get the outcome you want at the end of the day, but somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. It’s the kind of mindset you have to go in there with. But what I take from that is you just watch the film after the mistakes you made and you do your best after that to not make them again.  If everybody does their 1 in 11 at the end of the day you are going to come out with a victory.”

Q: What was it like experiencing that first win?

A: “That was probably the most amazing feeling…For me, I like to put others before myself, so I was just happy for my coaches and my teammates because like I said, they had been here for the past three years and they had never won a game before. So getting that victory no matter who we went against was huge.”

Q: How have you grown since arriving at TSU?

A: “I think my main thing was to trust my teammates. The one thing about me is it’s hard for me to trust. Once I started finally trusting my teammates, started trusting the man next to me, I started feeling more comfortable.”

Q: Where did that lack of trust come from?

A: “It kind of starts from, not even on the field, but off the field, in the meeting room, the weight room and stuff like that. You are going to have guys on the team who don’t finish a rep and stuff like that and it irks you. Sometimes you don’t say anything, you just want to see a reaction.”

Q: How did you feel being named as a Preseason All-SWAC Second Team member?

A: “Getting those preseason awards and stuff like that, it’s really nothing because I’m never satisfied. So I’ve got my unit group, my teammates and my coaches to push me to show them who I really am. Those preseason awards, that’s not who I am because everyone knows I’m not a second team or whatever. It’s more of a motivation and push to get to where I need to be.”

About Michael Badejo

People/person who inspired you: Pee Wee coach Derwin, Calvin, my mother Margaret Badejo

Favorite athlete: Khalik Mack

Favorite food: Shrimp fried rice with wings

Favorite movie: “Black Panther”

Favorite vacation spot: California

If you played another sport, what would it be: Track

I've been with The Defender since August 2019. I'm a long-time sportswriter who has covered everything from college sports to the Texans and Rockets during my 16 years of living in the Houston market....