Former Cardinal Newman standout wraps up college career at Sacramento State with Big Sky honors
By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
So consistent has Jeff Badger been as a Sacramento State football standout that he climbed into the school record books.
Capping a career that saw the former Cardinal Newman great play in all 44 games over four seasons, Badger earned All-Big Sky Conference honors as a senior. Badger isn’t done playing, though, as he works toward NFL tryouts in the spring.
“I still have that competitive edge,” Badger said. “Hopefully someone will give me a chance to show I can prove myself.”
Since his first snaps as a true freshman with Sacramento State, the linebacker has often shown he would be a very good major college player.
Proving his value from the outset, Badger gave Sacramento State a late-season spark as a freshman filling in for injured running backs. The past three seasons Badger has started at middle linebacker, anchoring the Hornets defense in some memorable contests.
Third on the Hornets in tackles this past season, Badger totaled 206 tackles for his career — 13th in program history.
“I knew that I had it in me,” he said. “After a couple of games you get used to playing at this level.”
Making honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference was well deserved. Badger was not only a top tackler, he led Sacramento State with three forced fumbles and was second with a pair of interceptions. One of those picks secured a win at Southern Utah, earning Badger Big Sky defensive player of the week honors.
Highlights on the season included defeating Colorado of the Pac-12, and knocking playoff bound Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo from the unbeaten ranks. Sacramento State finished tied for third in the Big Sky and was 6-5 overall.
One of those losses was to UC Davis and former Cardinal Newman teammate Randy Wright, the Aggies quarterback. The good friends met three times in the famed Causeway Classic with UC Davis winning each time.
“That is kind of upsetting. It is a really big game,” Badger said.
Still, as a Sacramento State defensive anchor, Badger made his share of hits on Wright and the two exchanged well-intentioned trash talking over the years.
“I was able to get to him on scrambles,” Badger said. “It’s fun because it’s someone you know.”
Faster and stronger each season, a goal coming into his senior campaign was making all-conference.
“I just wanted more as the games and seasons went on,” Badger said. “This year I wanted to try and prove I could go onto the next level.”
At least two opportunities await Badger. First is a Los Angeles pro camp in February. Then there is the Sacramento State pro day in March.
To prepare, Badger works out to increase speed, agility and strength. A pair of Sacramento State teammates help push him.
“I really just want somebody to give me a shot. I won’t disappoint anybody,” he said.
Badger has both the physical and mental ability to play football at a high level. He never missed a Sacramento State game to injury.
Equally notable, Badger will graduate after four years in school. Despite being a student-athlete, Badger took a full class load each year and some summer school sessions, majoring in sociology. Badger didn’t want to return to school to complete a degree after his college playing days were over.
“I just want to be really consistent in my work and what I do,” Badge
r said. “I’m really glad with the choice I made. Sacramento State really worked out for me.”
You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.