Hagan Vows to Stay Put

Last Saturday the maroon and gold faithful said goodbye to outstanding seniors such as Andrew Walter and Riccardo Stewart. Some may have thought that the Washington State game was going to mark junior Derek Hagan's last home game as well. The wide receiver told DevilsDigest that he has no intentions of putting his name in the 2005 NFL draft.

"I'll be back next year," smiled Derek Hagan who's a semifinalist for this season's Biletnikoff Award. "I'm not going anywhere. I got another year, so hopefully I can break some more records and win more games." The record he namely speaks of is total career receiving yards. The junior currently has 2,437 career receiving yards (5th all-time at ASU), and is well within striking of John Jefferson's 2,993 yards.

"As long as we're wining, the numbers don't mean anything," he said. "We're 8-2, having a great year, and hopefully we'll be 9-2 after we beat U of A." Nevertheless, he's on pace to surpass his 2003 numbers. He already has 67 catches, second only to Shaun McDonald's 87, which is one more than last season. By scoring one more touchdown he will surpass 2003's total of nine. Furthermore, he's only 121 yards away from bettering his total season yards from 2003.

Despite all his record setting, Hagan had to relinquish his 2002 ASU freshman records to another sensational first-year player, Zach Miller. The tight end already holds the freshman record for receptions with 43, obliterating the old record of 32 set by Hagan. Additionally, following the UCLA game Miller broke Hagan's freshman record of 405 yards receiving. "Oh man, we talk about that every day (smile)," exclaimed Hagan. "Nothing I can do about that. He's out here working hard, and that's why he has the record. Someday someone will come and take the record from him."

We caught up with Hagan after one of the team's abbreviated practices, where veterans got to leave the field midway through it to minimize the wear and tear on their bodies, and take full advantage of the bye week. "That's pretty nice coming out here, getting a little work done and going home." The junior said that he personally doesn't have any aches or pains to rest, which is a result of a vigorous off-season workout. "I'm out here healthy, and we're making sure that everybody else here is getting healthy, " he said. "We worked hard all winter and all summer, and that pays off in the long run. We're always practicing long days, so practicing a shorter time feels great."

When asked what aspects of his game he improved the most this year, he replied: "My route running, getting off the line of scrimmage when the defensive back is in my face, and how to get open when you're doubled and tripled teamed…I'm drawing a lot of double and triple teams, and that leaves Zach and the others wide open. All those guys are making plays for us." Hagan added that he feels that he has significantly enhanced his leadership skills as well.

The Washington State game was an emotional one for many reasons. Next week, the rivalry game will have a very different set of emotions attached to it, and naturally the dislike between both schools ranks as the main catalyst. "I can't stand U of A at all," Hagan remarked. "I can't wait to play them down there. There are a lot of emotions in this game, because there's hatred. Obviously we don't like them and they don't like us. It's gonna be a battle…I've been watching ASU and U of A play for a long time, and now actually playing in this game is really great." And baring unforeseen circumstances, Hagan will bid his farewell to the home fans this time next year at Sun Devil stadium facing the Sun Devils' archrival.

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