High Expectations for Hagan in NFL Draft

Four years ago he came to ASU in great anonymity. He departs Tempe as not only one of the best in Sun Devil history, but also a record holder in the Pac-10. Consequently, Derek Hagan's success should be rewarded in April, when he will likely be chosen in the first round of the NFL draft, and yet he's disappointed not to don the maroon and gold anymore. In this exclusive Devils Digest interview the wide receiver reflects on his last season in Tempe and discusses his preparations for the draft.

During his Arizona State tenure, Derek Hagan rewrote the school's record book with 3,939 yards receiving, 258 receptions and 27 touchdowns. The Sun Devil faithful would love nothing else but to see him continue run crisp routes and find the end zone in Sun Devil stadium, and the feeling according to him is mutual. "It sucks that my ASU career is over," he said, "but right now it's all about getting ready for the draft. Time has gone by so fast, and it's time for someone else to fill my shoes."

He may have celebrated his dozens of touchdowns with a touch of pizzazz, however despite his stellar career he was defined by humility which is usually uncharacteristic for a star player. The accolades are nice, but for him personally there's a sense that the team as a whole missed out on what could have been a special 2005 campaign. "It was important for me and everyone else to have a wining season," he commented. "That was our goal ever since we were done with the Sun Bowl. The season didn't turn out like we wanted to at 7-5, and we know we were capable of being a Top-10 team…I'm definitely happy that I had a good season, especially with the quarterbacks changing from Sam to Rudy, but I think a lot of other players, especially on the receiving core had a great season."

Speaking of that change under center, does Hagan believe that adjusting mid-season between the distinct techniques of Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter, is a factor that can benefit him in the future? "I think so," he replied, "because now I know I'm capable of adapting quickly when there's a quarterback change. Sam and Rudy had real different styles, and I had to adjust to Rudy. Yeah, he (Carpenter) was throwing the ball to us in practice but it wasn't that much when he was a backup. But he did a great job when he was the starter."

The ex-ASU wide receiver is projected to be the first player in his position taken in the draft, and a Top-15 pick overall. Appropriately, he signed with super agent Tom Condon from IMG who represents NFL stars such as Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and LaDainian Tomlinson. Aside from Hagan, Condon may possibly represent another top first rounder in Matt Leinhart. These days, Hagan is in IMG's Florida training facility. His speed coach is no other than Olympic gold medalist sprinter Michael Johnson, while former NFL wide receiver Lionel Taylor will be Hagan's position coach. The preparation in Florida will naturally be geared towards the NFL combine next month, but there's an earlier event that Hagan wishes to shine in just as much.

"First and foremost I got to get ready for the Senior Bowl," he explained. "I'd like to have a good game, because you have a lot of NFL coaches and GM's there. You want to leave a good impression and prove that you're one of the top guys in the draft."

The ex-Sun Devil wide receiver has went on record a few times saying that he grew up an Oakland Raiders fan, and would love to be part of the silver and black. Aside from that fact, reuniting with former ASU signal caller Andrew Walter would be an added bonus. "I wouldn't mind playing with them (the Raiders) because of A-Dub and all that," he remarked. "But I'm a California guy, so San Francisco or San Diego would be cool too. But I really don't have a preference. Whichever team wants me, that's where I'll play."

He laughs when suggested that he may copy fellow IMG client Eli Manning, who refused to play for the San Diego Chargers when picked at the #1 spot. "I know Eli Manning and I have the same agent," he said with a smile, "but no I'm not gonna do that. ASU guys in the NFL like Andrew and Shaun McDonald told me that the NFL is all business an I just have to come ready to play everyday."

Derek Hagan is the rare combination of a gifted player with a blue collar work ethic. These attributes served him well in the last four years in the valley of the Sun, and they should pay dividends for him on Sundays starting this fall.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories